Study shows alcohol more dangerous than heroin

A study out of the United Kingdom warns about the dangers of alcohol.

It says it's more harmful to users and society than illegal drugs, such as heroin.

We discovered the results are very similar in the United States even though the study was conducted in a different country.

"Society has made a determination that it can be managed, it can be sold, it can be consumed, so it is legal, that is the law," said Adams County State's Attorney Jon Barnard

Just because alcohol is legal doesn't mean that it doesn't have serious consequences. In fact, it could have even more negative consequences than illegal substances. Experts say accessibility is one reason alcohol scored so high in the study.

"If you stop and think about where access to these substances come from, you don't buy heroin at the grocery store. You don't buy crack cocaine at the local convenience store. You buy alcohol at all those places," said Recovery Resources Executive Director Ron Howell.

And not only is it accessible, it has become almost taboo if you don't drink.

"Alcohol is such a massive substance in our society, it's become so engrained as a part of normal human behavior both socially and otherwise, that I don't think people realize the massive impact that it does have," said Howell.

Heroin, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine were found most lethal to individuals. When you consider the impacts on a society, however, alcohol far outranked all other substances. Those impacts include breaking up families, ruining relationships, and even causing death, not to mention the monetary cost.

"If we take a look at the days lost at work, the hospitalizations, the counseling costs, expand that out into an entire society or entire group of societies, sure that's going to be a bigger dollar number," said Barnard.

"The economic expense to the United States is kind of overwhelming. Alcohol plays $185 million a year in lost income and work capability due to alcohol in our society," said Howell.

While law enforcement has deemed alcohol legal, one professor of psychiatry and addiction says what's illegal isn't always based on science.

Recovery Resources Executive Director Ron Howell also said 45% of all of the patients who come to his agency are struggling with alcohol issues compared to around 10% who struggle with heroin addiction.

The study was done by Britain's Centre for Crime and Justice and was published last month.