Drugs Vs Alcohol: Which causes more trouble?

Most people at some point in their lives, end up getting addicted to something, whether that’s playing video games, going shopping, or something that can be more life changing, like drugs or alcohol.

Pic: Is alcohol more harmful than drug misuse? (credit: Samantha Cohen)

Written by Elle-Mae Smith



There have been many studies produced over the years that have tried to suggest one of these substances may be more harmful than the other. However, a recent report was published, questioning as to whether selling drugs such as ecstasy and cannabis over the counter, would decrease the amount of people that get caught up in addiction.

Statistics from Public Health England, show that up to 73% of drug misuse occurs in men, however drug misuse among women are a long-term increasing trend. Recovering addict Rob Woolley spoke about his journey through addiction. Although he’s now healthy and happy, with a home, partner and job behind him, his past was a very different situation, caused from the misuse of both drugs and alcohol.

Rob was first sentenced to prison in his mid-teens, due to alcohol misuse. Over the years he’s been in and out of prison for both alcohol and drug related crimes. His lowest moment was when he started stealing to get high, which then led to losing his job. In August 2003, if he hadn’t gone into prison and later into a rehabilitation centre, he stated would’ve been dead by Christmas. His family and friends were extremely worried to the point where they had warned others to stop supplying him.

Even though Mr Woolley had dabbled in all sorts of drugs throughout his sentences, he is 50/50 on whether making drugs legal will change anything. Rehabilitation worker Carol Millington expressed how she believed that laws surrounding drugs and alcohol are ludicrous. “Using drugs doesn’t harm the body as much as alcohol does, yet legalising drugs is something that has been discussed and declined / frowned upon for many years” Ms Millington stated.

Alcohol, whilst its legal and regulated, has many statistics behind it that show how harmful it can be compared to legal highs. In 2014, there were a recorded 30,722 deaths from alcohol in the US. It’s much harder to be killed from Marijuana than alcohol, however Marijuana can be much harder on the heart compared to moderate drinking.

Countries like Amsterdam and America, whilst they have not agreed to sell drugs in stores, have brought in testing to show people exactly what they have brought before they take it. “The effects of alcohol is evident that it is more harmful to the human body and longer to withdraw from” Ms Millington told me.

Both Rob and Carol believe that people need educating on the issues surrounding both substances. Millington states that her view on addiction has changed massively. “I never understood how much addiction can actually take from a person and leave them stripped of their family, friends, jobs, money and ultimately their lives”.

Woolley believes that there needs to be “safeguarding and testing brought in, to ensure that people know what they are actually getting”. This could lead to less deaths and people knowing more about what they’re putting into their bodies. As to the big question of which is worse, there is still more research to be done to determine that answer.


Author: esmith

Im currently living in London, studying Journalism at South Bank University.