By Ali Khimji
A new report from the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs has found alcohol to be more dangerous than illegal drugs. The organisation, led by David Nutt, scored the drugs on a scale of 1-100 based on mental and physical damage, addiction, crime and costs to the economy and communities.
Alcohol scored 72 points, heroin got 55 points, and crack came third with 54 points. The report also calls for a new classification system for illegal drugs.
The findings arrive alongside more concerns over the anti-social effects of alcohol in town centres. “Too many of our streets and town and city centres are plagued by shouting, vomiting, fights, urination and other rowdy behaviour,” said Matthew Bennett, chairman of Open All Hours campaign group.
Alcohol-related crime and disorder is thought to cost taxpayers £13bn per year. It is estimated to cost the NHS £3bn per year to treat alcohol-related sickness. Furthermore, alcohol is responsible for a total of 26,000 deaths in England and Wales.
As we enter the age of austerity and government spending cuts, it is hard to believe that the government spends £16bn on treating the effects of alcohol.
The combined Departmental Programme and Administration Budgets for Energy & Climate Change, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Transport, and International Development add up to £14bn in 2010-11.
If people were able to control their alcohol consumption, we would be able to double the amount of money that we spend on securing a sustainable future, improving our infrastructure, and supporting developmental aid programmes abroad.
These statistics really beg the question of asking ourselves if we have our priorities right. Alcohol spending reached £41bn last year. In the previous year, cash donations to charities in the UK reached £1.3bn. If people were able to decrease their alcohol consumption by 10%, we could boost the work of charities across the UK and the world.