A new report from the Society for the Study of Addiction found that alcohol and tobacco are far and away the most harmful substances used around the world. The report culls together data from the World Health Organization, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Even though there are some limitations in the data, the SSA’s report offers a global picture of the mortality and burden of disease associated with alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use.
And while cannabis use is up especially in the US and Canada, the real story here is alcohol and tobacco. Researchers measured cannabis dependence at just 259 out of 100,000 people, with more affluent regions having the highest rates.
Alcohol and Tobacco Use Cost Humankind 250,000,000 Life Years In 2015 Alone
Compared to their illicit counterparts (including cannabis and hard drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine), alcohol and tobacco cost the most life years and caused the highest mortality rates, according to a new report from the Society for the Study of Addiction.
Researchers can study the overall harm drug use causes by measuring their impact in “disability-adjusted life years,” or DALYs. This metric takes into account the years people live with cancers, respiratory disease or heart disease. It also tallies deaths from overdoses.
Using DALYs and deaths from substance use, researchers were able to measure the harm alcohol, tobacco and drug use cause in relative and absolute terms. And according to the report’s findings, illicit drugs come nowhere close to the harm alcohol and tobacco cause.
Take a look at the raw numbers, beginning with substance-attributable mortality rates. Tobacco use killed the most people, 110.7 deaths per 100,000 people.