Recent study finds alcohol more dangerous than hard drugs

A new study is a buzz kill for anyone who thought alcohol was harmless. British researchers have found that alcohol is more dangerous than hard drugs.

The researchers evaluated substances including alcohol, cocaine, heroin and marijuana and ranked them based on how destructive they are to the individual taking them and to society as a whole. Some St. Thomas students weren’t surprised that the study deemed alcohol the most dangerous drug.

“Alcohol is a poison,” junior Joe Cronin said. “Anyone who denies that fact doesn’t realize basic chemistry.”

Student Health Services Director Madonna McDermott said drinking this “poison” in excess can shut your body down.

“Alcohol affects almost every organ system that we have,” she said. “It impacts your brain, it impacts your heart, your lungs, your stomach, even your central nervous system.”

The study found heroin, crystal meth and crack cocaine to be the most lethal to users. Alcohol and heroine were found to be the deadliest when considering wider social effects and harm to others. Overall, alcohol outranked all other substances. The researchers said alcohol scored so high because of the high amount of use and because of the devastating consequences for drinkers and those around them.

But even though alcohol was ranked so high, sophomore Collin Kearney said drinking is more tolerable in society than using drugs.

“More people might only drink because of the long-term effects and addiction that come with taking drugs,” Kearney said. “You think that cocaine, for example, would be worse for you, but it could be because of preconceptions because it isn’t legal.”

McDermott said these preconceptions play a big part in people choosing alcohol over drugs.

“Part of it is cultural,” Mcdermott said. “Alcohol has been around for a very long time, and it’s been legalized as something that we can obtain and use.”

Cronin said alcohol use for college students is directly correlated to the mass media.

“We have cultural norms that portray drinking in a good light,” he said. “There are hilarious beer commercials and vodka commercials that make you think you think you can get a girl because of booze. Some college students drink because they think they are acting in a way that is cool and fun.”

Senior Nadine Brown said the findings wouldn’t deter her from occasionally drinking alcohol.

“It doesn’t make me think twice. My life hasn’t been destroyed because I have drank,” she said. “Hard drugs and alcohol aren’t good for your body, but drugs will have a deteriorating effect on your life in the long run. I don’t drink every day, but even when I do, I can still wake up and feel fine the next day.”

McDermott wants to warn students about the counter-productiveness of alcohol.

“You need to think about the damage to cells. No matter what part of the body, your cells are being damaged,” she said. “Students come to a college, especially like St. Thomas, where academics are a challenge, and they are spending a lot of money to get a great education. But at the same time, you are studying and then might go out and drink in excess and kill the brain cells you need to retain this knowledge.”

Of the 20 drugs graded in the British study, marijuana, ecstasy and LSD were on the low end of the harmful scale.

Zach Pagano can be reached at