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psychiatrists ask why lawmakers ignore alcohol’s harms

A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology that calls for a “more balanced drug policy” from law enforcement and lawmakers asked the simple and profound question, ‘why do law and policy makers treat illegal drugs as if they were more harmful than the worlds most abused drug, alcohol?’ 

Jan van Amsterdam of the Laboratory for Health Protection Research in the Netherlands and psychiatrist Wim van den Brink said that law writers’ failure to recognize that ”alcohol abuse is more harmful for public health and society than illicit drug use” was “unjustified.” 

The authors pointed out the fact that, in absolute numbers, alcohol abuse is vastly more prevalent in society as a whole than drug abuse.  The overwhelming majority of people seeking health assistance for addiction problems are alcohol abusers.  The report also reiterated what a study by the National Institutes of Health found, that alcohol is as addictive as heroin and crack cocaine. 

The authors said that alcohol’s “high harm score” required that it be given a higher relevance in determining drug policy.  The authors of the study called on legislatures to assume a balanced approach as they write laws, and highlight harm reduction instead of criminalization.

The Centers for Disease Control attributes 80,000 deaths each year to alcohol.  Last year 800,000 people were arrested in the US for possessing cannabis.

cross posted at mLaw

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