Alcohol, Tobacco Cause More Health Harm Than Illegal Drugs

Alcohol, Tobacco Cause More Health Harm Than Illegal Drugs

It's smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol -- and not taking illegal drugs -- that pose the greatest risks to people's health, a new international study contends.

Researchers found that alcohol and tobacco use combined cost more than a quarter of a billion disability-adjusted life-years worldwide, while illegal drugs only accounted for tens of millions in comparison. Disability-adjusted life-years is a measurement of overall disease burden, expressed as the number of years lost due to ill health, disability or early death.

Worldwide, more than one in seven adults smoke tobacco, and one in five reports at least one occasion of heavy drinking in the past month, the review of 2015 data found.

Central, Eastern and Western Europe have the highest alcohol consumption per person, and the highest rates of heavy consumption among drinkers (50.5 percent, 48 percent, and just over 42 percent, respectively), according to the report.

Those same areas also have the highest rates of tobacco smoking -- Eastern Europe 24.2 percent, Central Europe 23.7 percent, and Western Europe almost 21 percent.

Illicit drug use was far less common worldwide, with fewer than one in 20 people estimated to use marijuana in the past year, with much lower rates of use for amphetamines, opioids and cocaine, the researchers said.

But the United States and Canada had among the highest rates of dependence on marijuana (749 cases per 100,000 people), opioids (650 cases per 100,000) and cocaine (301 cases per 100,000), according to study co-author Robert West, of University College London, and colleagues.

In addition, Australia and New Zealand had the highest rate of amphetamine dependence (491.5 per 100,000 people), as well as high rates of dependence on marijuana (694 cases per 100,000 people), opioids (510 per 100,000) and cocaine use (160.5 per 100,000 people).

The study was published online May 11 in the journal Addiction.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines the dangers of tobacco and smoking.


Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Mental Health Does Not Come With A Manual, It Comes With Friends & Family Support That Never Gives Up!
Join now

Related Content

A Spike In Liver Disease Deaths Among Young Adults Fueled By Alcohol
A Spike In Liver Disease Deaths Among Young Adults Fueled By Alcohol

Dr. Elliot Tapper has treated a lot of patients, but this one stood out. "His wh...

Read more
More Opioid Users Getting Treatment Since Medicaid Expansion
More Opioid Users Getting Treatment Since Medicaid Expansion

The expansion of Medicaid that came along with the Affordable Care Act has made ...

Read more
U.S. Opioid Epidemic Fueling Life Expectancy Decline
U.S. Opioid Epidemic Fueling Life Expectancy Decline

The opioid epidemic may be a major reason for recent declines in Americans' life...

Read more
Why You Should Watch Your Weight After You Stop Smoking
Why You Should Watch Your Weight After You Stop Smoking

There's good news and bad news for smokers who worry about packing on extra poun...

Read more
Doctors Write Fewer Opioid Scripts After Learning of Overdose Death
Doctors Write Fewer Opioid Scripts After Learning of Overdose Death

Doctors prescribed fewer opioid pain medications after receiving letters from a ...

Read more
Number of Opioid-Addicted Women Giving Birth Quadruples
Number of Opioid-Addicted Women Giving Birth Quadruples

The number of pregnant women addicted to opioids as they give birth has more tha...

Read more