While the great American population has been sold a spiel for decades that suggests legal drugs, like alcohol and tobacco, are safer than the bud and dust found on the black market, a new report serves to reiterate that we’ve all been had. Although the effects of both legal and illegal substances can bring about a variety of health problems, some of which are even life threatening, a paper from the society for the Study of Addiction shows that it is those people who smoke and drink in excess who are at the most risk of succumbing to the terrors of substance-related decline.
Researchers, however, were quick to point out that their findings are in no way intended to imply that drugs like cocaine and heroin are safer than beer, only that society’s cavalier attitude toward legal substances, those where the potential risks are masked by clever advertising and attractive labeling, is leading to more health problems than street drugs. This is not a supernatural occurrence, they said. It only stands to reason that the legal drugs consumed on a regular basis by the majority of the population are contributing to more of a downfall than those illicit substances used by few.
Nevertheless, from cardiovascular issues to cancer, alcohol and tobacco are driving more of the population to an early grave.
“Their health burden is accompanied by significant economic costs, namely expenditure on healthcare and law enforcement, lost productivity, and other direct and indirect costs, including harm to others,” researchers said. “Estimating the prevalence of use and associated burden of disease and mortality at the country, regional, and global level is critical in quantifying the extent and severity of the burden arising from substance use.”
Interestingly, contrary to what the headlines read, the American opioid junkie is not the biggest contributing factor to death and destruction among a culture of substance abusers. The largest portion of debauched society is actually taking place in Europe, researchers say, where the population is drinking and smoking itself into oblivion. But make no mistake – Americans are doing their best to fill the Earth with young corpses.
Although opioids are now responsible for killing off more than 60,000 people in the United States every year, the combined casualty list for booze and cigarettes still tops it – coming in at around 568,000 dead every year. This figure has stayed fairly consistent over the past several years. But it is getting worse. Yet, this death rattle of genocidal proportions has not prompted the federal government to declare a national emergency. It only offers a warning from the Surgeon General telling those people who dabble in these products, or use them on a regular basis, that smoking and drinking could cause health problems. The overall message of the latest study, which was published in the journal Addiction, is legal does not mean safe.