When many people think of deadly recreational drugs, what most often comes to mind are things like heroin, crack cocaine, and methamphetamines. But is something we encounter every day – alcohol – actually more deadly than these frightening substances?
Our Chicago accident lawyers have long suspected that the answer is “yes.” Now, researchers in Britain have come to this same conclusion. A new study published last week in the online version of the medical journal Lancet looked at just this question. This research was funded by Britain’s Centre for Crime and Justice Studies.
The British researchers evaluated various “recreational” drugs, both legal and illegal, including alcohol as well as marijuana, cocaine (and crack cocaine), heroin, methamphetamines (commonly called “crystal meth”) and ecstasy. For each drug, they looked at a number of factors, focused both on the drug’s impact on the individuals who take it and the drug’s larger impact on society more generally. These factors included addictiveness, the effects on and harms to the human body, environmental damage, consequences to families, healthcare costs, social services costs to society, and the economic costs to society from imprisoning users, dealers, and others.
The researchers then ranked the drugs in a number of ways. They looked at individual destructiveness, as well as detriment to society. The results were as follows:
- When the effects on individual users alone were considered, the most lethal drugs were heroin, crack cocaine and crystal meth.
- When only the dangers to larger society were considered, alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine were the most lethal.
- When both factors (individual and societal damage) were considered, alcohol was the deadliest of all the drugs.
To the injury and wrongful death attorneys of Passen & Powell, these results were not very surprising. Considering the widespread use and acceptance of alcohol – setting it apart from all the other drugs studied – it is natural that the societal costs of alcohol use are high. Moreover, as we have seen firsthand, there are countless deadly car accidents caused by drunk drivers, and other serious accidents where alcohol is involved.
Take, for instance, the senseless death this weekend in Bolingbrook, Illinois, where a suspected drunk teenage driver drove her car through a residential building and killed a woman who was sleeping in her bed.
So what can be done? Obviously, there are no easy answers. The study mentions several ways to address the problem, including governments focusing their attention on “problem drinkers” or increasing the price of alcohol. Whatever solutions are eventually agreed upon, our wrongful death attorneys are glad to see a study bringing attention to this very real problem. We have seen far too many lives lost and destroyed by alcohol, through drunk driving and other issues, to take this problem lightly.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.