Which I post because I love you all so, and since you are so preoccupied with that other 100+ page thread, I might as well get another one going. http://thomaskleppesto.tumblr.com/post/26149335063/the-relative-dangers-of-drugs-what-the-science-says
David Nutt and his colleagues have studied the relative harm of drugs. In one of Nutt’s studies that were published in the lancet, members of the British Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs was asked to rate 20 drugs on 16 criteria such as drug-specific damage, mortality, dependence and international damage. Drugs were scored on a 100-point scale. Here is a display of the weighted scores:
In the diagram above both individual and societal factors are considered. It may come to a surprise to many readers that LSD and ecstasy are one of the least dangerous drugs. Notice also that Alcohol is the highest rated dangerous drug and that tobacco is on seventh place just below Cocaine (Both alcohol and tobacco are not even considered a drug by many people, including, sadly, politicians). However, heroin, crack and metamfetamine tops the list for the most dangerous drugs when only individual factors are considered, alcohol then dropping down to a fourth place amongst the most dangerous drugs. So, even when the obvious societal effects due to the widespread use of alcohol are not considered (alcohol rates very high, unsurprisingly, on “family adversities” and “environmental damage”) it still is the fourth most dangerous drug. Yes, that’s right. Alcohol nearly receives the bronze-medal for danger to individuals.
The particular type of neurotransmitters that a drug affects in the brain has a huge impact on the harms the drug can contribute to. A major similarity between the drugs that tops the list above is that these drugs, in addition to other areas in the brain (click here for a discussion), directly affect the dopaminergic “reward system” in the midbrain. This area has been shaped and “designed” by millions of years of natural selection in mammals to reward for adaptive behavior such as sex and the intake of nutritious food. When they are artificially stimulated by drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine they have adverse consequences for addiction and health (that is the reason why drugs such as nicotine and heroin have the characteristic addictive effects). Drugs at the bottom of the list, such as MDMA (ecstasy), mushrooms and LSD stimulate mainly serotonergic neurons (several places in the brain), and does not directly stimulate the mesolimbic reward systems (which is why they are not addictive).
The many myths and popular beliefs surrounding psychoactive substances and their harms are perpetuated through the popular media. An empirical observation of this phenomenon was provided by Alasdair Forsyth in 2001. He compared the official statistics on drug deaths in Scotland to the drug-deaths reported in the Scottish newspapers. His results are somewhat astounding: a huge proportion of deaths caused by recreational drugs were reported, whereas deaths caused by pharmaceutical drugs were vastly underreported. For example, 26 of 28 deaths were MDMA (ecstasy) was a possible contributor to death was reported, whereas just one in every 256 deaths caused by aspirin and one in 50 deaths caused by paracetamol were reported. This clearly gives a biased representation of the relative harm of drugs, particularly ecstasy, which, as is reported in the diagram above, is not at all that dangerous.
The rest is about cannabis and the "gateway drug" hypothesis, as well as pro-cannabis and pro-hallucinogen rhetoric, so use the link if you really want a rehash of that. The research above, on the other hand, is new to me and interesting, ESPECIALLY because it considers more than just mortality and damage.
Again, I love you all so very much. <3 And heres a link to journal article, if you have access [I don't