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View Poll Results: Should Alcohol be banned?
Yes 18 17.48%
No 48 46.60%
It's a harmful drug I'm prepared to take 37 35.92%
Voters: 103. You may not vote on this poll

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  #21  
Old 01.11.2010, 14:02
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Re: [BBC News] Alcohol more harmful than Heroin! Should it be made illegal?

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Ok, I find the difference pretty obvious, but well: If you go to a restaurant, you are basically expected to drink alcohol. I guess this does not necessarily apply to all Brits, but many drink the wine not primarily to get drunk! (I know, shocking...)

So for me, alcohol is not first and foremost a drug - only the excessive consumption damages you, there have been countless studies on "how good is a glass of red wine a day". i have not seen any serious study telling you that smoking weed or taking cocaine - even in small amounts - would be beneficial for you. Against all hippy arguments is it by now pretty well established that weed is far from healthy. I have worked with disabled and seen it do good, but a healthy person will not benefit from it (physically... ).

The others besides alcohol are drugs only used as drugs. Therefore it is far easier to become an alcoholic than the other examples: You simply need to go to enough social as well as business meetings and you have a fair chance to drink some alcohol every given day. This does not make you an alcoholic, but it becomes a habit... like smoking cigarettes - the addiction might or might not come in the long run. I would make the bet that most alcoholics did not plan to become what they are and did not start by abusing alcohol: they simply raised the amounts of beers, then vodkas a day... and as it is so accepted to consume, low level alcoholism can be easily hidden for years.
So if wine had a cocaine-like effect that would be ok or if cocaine tasted delicious that would be fine? I don't think associating a narcotic effect with a primary sensory property works here.
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  #22  
Old 01.11.2010, 14:03
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Re: [BBC News] Alcohol more harmful than Heroin! Should it be made illegal?

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I was about to mention it was published in THE Lancet...then I remembered they also published that article about the MMR vaccine being linked to autism.

So where does the lancet fit in the 'harm to others' scale on that graph?
The Lancet published the paper by Andrew Wakefield in 1998. However, if he had disclosed the conflict of interest (he was paid £55K for the study, involving children whose parents were taking legal action against the MMR manufacture), they would not have published it. But it was the utterly irresponsible mainstream journalism that did the harm. See Ben Goldacres "Bad Science" for the full horror story.

I don't think there's any doubt that overall alcohol causes more damage than other, illegal, drugs. But is, and has been, a part of our culture. I don't see there will be any change in that - unless Europe adopts Sharia law of course.
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  #23  
Old 01.11.2010, 14:06
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Re: [BBC News] Alcohol more harmful than Heroin! Should it be made illegal?

Continuing the logic further . . . I expect most in favour of the status quo would recoil at suggestions that you could add drugs to a drink to make them somehow acceptible. It wouldn't be right to produce a dry-vodka pill which made you instantly drunk.

On the other hand, we do find it acceptable to fortify wines with base spirits, e.g. port and madeira.
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  #24  
Old 01.11.2010, 14:08
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Re: [BBC News] Alcohol more harmful than Heroin! Should it be made illegal?

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So where does the lancet fit in the 'harm to others' scale on that graph?
The Lancet is not univocal. Yes, it publishes leader articles and has an editorial voice, but often it publishes papers presenting conflicting conclusions (yes, science can do this).
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  #25  
Old 01.11.2010, 14:09
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Re: [BBC News] Alcohol more harmful than Heroin! Should it be made illegal?

some truly bizarre logic in this thread
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  #26  
Old 01.11.2010, 14:10
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Re: [BBC News] Alcohol more harmful than Heroin! Should it be made illegal?

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some truly bizarre logic in this thread
for example?
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  #27  
Old 01.11.2010, 14:13
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Re: [BBC News] Alcohol more harmful than Heroin! Should it be made illegal?

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some truly bizarre logic in this thread
I don't think that anyone's presenting a particularly logical way forward . . . they're just pointing out the logical flaws in the arguments supporting the current laws.
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  #28  
Old 01.11.2010, 14:15
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Re: [BBC News] Alcohol more harmful than Heroin! Should it be made illegal?

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I don't think that anyone's presenting a particularly logical way forward . . . they're just pointing out the logical flaws in the arguments supporting the current laws.
I believe all drugs should be made legal in line with cigarettes - that is, taxed, standardised, regulated for age restrictions and place of sale etc and finally be sold with full warnings and information displayed prominently on every package.
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  #29  
Old 01.11.2010, 14:20
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Re: [BBC News] Alcohol more harmful than Heroin! Should it be made illegal?

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I believe all drugs should be made legal in line with cigarettes - that is, taxed, standardised, regulated for age restrictions and place of sale etc and finally be sold with full warnings and information displayed prominently on every package.
It's not that long ago that many of today's illegal substances were legal. During the first world war, many troops were sent drug packages by relatives who had bought heroin, cocaine etc at their local chemist.

And, of course, the British Government was the major player in the Chinese opium market.

For me, the sheer irrationality of (UK) drug policy is illustrated by the recent hullabaloo over 4-MMC (Miaow). It was banned on the back of reports of deaths caused by its use. After the ban, all the reports were conclusively discredited, but the substance remains banned.
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  #30  
Old 01.11.2010, 14:29
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Re: [BBC News] Alcohol more harmful than Heroin! Should it be made illegal?

I would be more interested in a % of user basis.
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  #31  
Old 01.11.2010, 14:32
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Re: [BBC News] Alcohol more harmful than Heroin! Should it be made illegal?

The chart contains two data sets - the purple indicates each drug's "harm to others" and the sickly yellow color indicates it's "harm to self". They've stacked these two together in that first chart showing each drug’s cumulative harm.

The reason for alcohol being up there on the top is that it has the highest “harm to others” rating. Most likely because people drink socially, often getting in cars afterwards, having accidents.

Personally, I’d rather see the data sets charted separately, but of course that would provide a less sensationalist headline.

From the BBC article:
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The modelling exercise concluded that heroin, crack and methylamphetamine, also known as crystal meth, were the most harmful drugs to individuals, but alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine were the most harmful to society.
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Last edited by Serafina; 01.11.2010 at 14:41. Reason: typos
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  #32  
Old 01.11.2010, 14:33
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Re: [BBC News] Alcohol more harmful than Heroin! Should it be made illegal?

This study is fairly attention seeking. It studies the societal impact of drugs, not the impact on an individual. As the only legal drug, the percentage of the population that indulges in alcohol is obviously wayyyyy higher than any of the others, so to say this in any way "proves" alcohol is more dangerous than heroin for example, is totally misleading and incorrect. Can you imagine the breakdown in social structures that would take place if you replaced alcohol consumption with heroin? The mind boggles.

Edit - beaten to the punch by the post above...
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  #33  
Old 01.11.2010, 14:35
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Re: [BBC News] Alcohol more harmful than Heroin! Should it be made illegal?

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Can you imagine the breakdown in social structures that would take place if you replaced alcohol consumption with heroin?
I can imagine how much more pleasant Loughborough town centre would be on a Friday evening...
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  #34  
Old 01.11.2010, 14:38
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Re: [BBC News] Alcohol more harmful than Heroin! Should it be made illegal?

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It's not that long ago that many of today's illegal substances were legal. During the first world war, many troops were sent drug packages by relatives who had bought heroin, cocaine etc at their local chemist.

And, of course, the British Government was the major player in the Chinese opium market.

For me, the sheer irrationality of (UK) drug policy is illustrated by the recent hullabaloo over 4-MMC (Miaow). It was banned on the back of reports of deaths caused by its use. After the ban, all the reports were conclusively discredited, but the substance remains banned.
I just looked that up concerning the miaow. Very interesting. The studies exonerating the miaow didn't get much media attention at all!
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  #35  
Old 01.11.2010, 14:38
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Re: [BBC News] Alcohol more harmful than Heroin! Should it be made illegal?

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I can imagine how much more pleasant Loughborough town centre would be on a Friday evening...
Hmmmmmmm......would also reduce the quantity of fat birds significantly, junkie chiq would be the new thing.
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  #36  
Old 01.11.2010, 14:44
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Re: [BBC News] Alcohol more harmful than Heroin! Should it be made illegal?

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Can you imagine the breakdown in social structures that would take place if you replaced alcohol consumption with heroin? The mind boggles.
Keep boggling.

That's never going to happen and it's a silly thought experiment. Even if heroin were made legal (which I don't advocate) I don't think you'd see widespread adoption nor the use pattern you get with alcohol. Most of the health and societal problems with that drug are caused by its illegality anyway.
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Old 01.11.2010, 14:48
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Re: [BBC News] Alcohol more harmful than Heroin! Should it be made illegal?

I think most educated people are aware of the fact that alcohol is no better than most illegal drugs, considered on a purely physiological level, and even, as things stand at the moment, on a societal level. Many people would like to see some kind of libertarian logic applied to the use of drugs for pleasure and entertainment, and I can understand totally where they are coming from - indeed, some of the time I would even agree with them.

The problem would be in applying any new regulations. The control and supply of alcohol has developed over centuries, legally, with full supervision from the government, so that you know that a can of Feldschlosschen won't kill you, even if it gives you an urge to kill the brewer. You also know that nobody has been hurt in the process of brewing it or distributing it. When you go to a bar, there are rules in place which are intended to protect potentially vulnerable people such as children. Shops which supply alcoholic drinks are obliged to adhere to regulations, the flouting of which leads to well defined penalties. There are safe, reliable tests for those caught drinking and driving. There is a strong, well established legal, social and ethical drinking culture.

For most illegal drugs, on the other hand, all of this is missing. Sure, there are rules of etiquette amongst certain groups of recreational drug users, but apart from that it's a free for all. Supply networks are illegal, dangerous and exploitative. The regulations that are currently in place vary from prohibition-but-we'll-turn-a-blind-eye to prohibition-and-we'll-kill-you. There are no mechanisms in place to control the supply and distribution of substances that range from the physically-safe-but-psychologically-dodgy LSD to the everybody-does-it-but-mind-the-palpitations speed. There are few cheap, safe and quick means of testing for these greatly different drugs if someone is caught driving while under the influence of, er, something or other.... the list of difficulties for any government who wished to actively legalise recreational drugs is endless - and I haven't even begun to mention the international treaties that would have to be torn up or amended to cope with such an enormous change in a country.

It's a lovely idea, but it will never happen.

Anyone fancy a pint?
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  #38  
Old 01.11.2010, 15:09
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Re: [BBC News] Alcohol more harmful than Heroin! Should it be made illegal?

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I think most educated people are aware of the fact that alcohol is no better than most illegal drugs, considered on a purely physiological level, and even, as things stand at the moment, on a societal level. Many people would like to see some kind of libertarian logic applied to the use of drugs for pleasure and entertainment, and I can understand totally where they are coming from - indeed, some of the time I would even agree with them.

The problem would be in applying any new regulations. The control and supply of alcohol has developed over centuries, legally, with full supervision from the government, so that you know that a can of Feldschlosschen won't kill you, even if it gives you an urge to kill the brewer. You also know that nobody has been hurt in the process of brewing it or distributing it. When you go to a bar, there are rules in place which are intended to protect potentially vulnerable people such as children. Shops which supply alcoholic drinks are obliged to adhere to regulations, the flouting of which leads to well defined penalties. There are safe, reliable tests for those caught drinking and driving. There is a strong, well established legal, social and ethical drinking culture.

For most illegal drugs, on the other hand, all of this is missing. Sure, there are rules of etiquette amongst certain groups of recreational drug users, but apart from that it's a free for all. Supply networks are illegal, dangerous and exploitative. The regulations that are currently in place vary from prohibition-but-we'll-turn-a-blind-eye to prohibition-and-we'll-kill-you. There are no mechanisms in place to control the supply and distribution of substances that range from the physically-safe-but-psychologically-dodgy LSD to the everybody-does-it-but-mind-the-palpitations speed. There are few cheap, safe and quick means of testing for these greatly different drugs if someone is caught driving while under the influence of, er, something or other.... the list of difficulties for any government who wished to actively legalise recreational drugs is endless - and I haven't even begun to mention the international treaties that would have to be torn up or amended to cope with such an enormous change in a country.

It's a lovely idea, but it will never happen.

Anyone fancy a pint?
We can look to the Netherlands for a marijuana legalisation and regulation model - they seem to have handled it rather well, though have suffered from drug tourism. Coca production when legalised will be similar to coffee in that it's grown in the same locations by largely the same people. Legalisation of cocaine in this case will open up scrutiny of growing and transport practices and lead to "fair trade" cocaine as with fair trade coffee.

Police test for drugs on the road using the following http://www.dft.gov.uk/think/drugdriv...fordrugs.shtml

it may seem a bit funny, but the cops aren't stupid and they can build a criminal case around this. Also, there is new Drug Driving equipment which is being tested now http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-10887858

The upshot is that all of this can happen quite easily if there is demand.
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  #39  
Old 01.11.2010, 15:18
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Re: [BBC News] Alcohol more harmful than Heroin! Should it be made illegal?

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I can't think of any other alcoholic drinks which have nutritional benefits either.
Malibu???
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Old 01.11.2010, 15:19
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Re: [BBC News] Alcohol more harmful than Heroin! Should it be made illegal?

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The upshot is that all of this can happen quite easily if there is demand.
Is there any demand for this, though?

Recreational drug use, despite being widespread, is still considered to be a marginal, deviant practice by an awful lot of people.

Even if you abandon the arguments of individual liberty and concentrate on reducing crime, cracking criminal gangs and so on, a lot of people would rather see the inevitable costs of setting up the new infrastructure diverted to hospitals and schools, or their own pockets.

I can't see the people of Swindon, Coventry and Harrogate ever being persuaded that this would be a good thing.
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