A new ranking system based on a multicriteria analysis reveals alcohol to be the most harmful drug, beyond even heroin and crack.

The system developed by Professor Nutt of Imperial College London uses the multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA) to look at nine criteria that reflects harm caused to the user, which includes mortality, mental impairment, and dependency, as well as seven criteria that reflects damage done to others such as crime, environmental damage, economic cost, and family conflict, clustering them into five subgroups that represent physical, psychological, and social harms. 

The scaling was bast out of 100, 100 being the most harmful substance, and 0 being most harmless. The author of the model explained that great care was given "to ensure that each successive point on the scale represents equal increments of harm." So if a drug scored at 50, it would then be half as harmful as a drug that scored at 100.

The MCDA model placed alcohol at 72, making it the most harmful substance from a full range of analyzed categories, with the next highest drug being heroin which scaled at 55 points. Alcohol was placed over three times as harmful as cocaine and tobacco, and those placed even lower were cannabis (20), ecstacy (9), LSD (7), and mushrooms at (5) proving the lowest of all the classified drugs.

According to Nutt, a new classification system may group drugs into a new grading scale and the new findings lend support to previous work in the UK and Netherlands that confirms that the present drug classification system "have little relation to the evidence of harm." The importance of this new ranking system will hopefully be utilized in the reformation of the drug policy, grouping drugs together in terms of their actual harm and not through lobbyist campaigns, which will help cast a clearer perception on the reality of the substances considered socially acceptable and those tightly controlled in a grip of unscientific fear.


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