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Illegal and legal drugs

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Which do you think produces the greatest amount of damage and death? Illegal and legal drugs? We are going to review the 2015-2017 statistics to understand a little more what is happening around the world.

The study to which we are going to make the reference divides the drugs into three parts: (a) alcohol, (b) tobacco, and (c) illicit drugs. The standardized rate that we will use is based on every 100 000 inhabitants.

Among the illicit drugs are cannabis, amphetamines, opiates, and cocaine.

Illegal and legal drugs

Worldwide, 18.4% of people reported that in the last month they consumed alcohol in a “heavy” way and this means that they consumed more than 60 grams of alcohol on a single occasion (daily). To give you an idea, those 60 grams is equivalent to 4 standard drinks of alcohol.

In parallel, 15.2% of the population reported having smoked on a daily basis.

With regard to illicit drugs, 3.8% of the population consumed cannabis, 0.77% consumed amphetamines, 0.37% consumed opiates, 0.35% consumed cocaine. All these people reported their consumption during the last year. (2015 data)

If we start to analyze these substances from the point of view of addiction we can find that an approximate of 843.2 people (every 100 000) suffered from alcohol dependence, 259.3 people (every 100 000) suffered from cannabis dependence, 220.4 people (every 100 000) were opioid dependent, 86 people (every 100 000) were amphetamine dependent, and 52.5 people (every 100 000) were dependent on cocaine.

The regions with greater dependence on illicit drugs mentioned are in northern America and Europe where the highest minimum wage is found. (In the graph below these areas appear reddish and orange).

Map showing distribution of alcohol, tobacco smoking, and illicit drug.
Map showing distribution of alcohol, tobacco smoking, and illicit drug.

In terms of mortality, 110.7 people (every 100 000) die from smoking, 33 people (every 100 000) die from alcohol, and 6.9 people (every 100 000) die from illicit drugs.

In 2015, alcohol consumption and tobacco consumption cost humanity more than 250 million years of life. It includes the affected years of those who consume it and also those who are affected indirectly.

While illicit drugs cost tens of millions of years more.

So far that’s all the research tells us, and adds a note saying that the statistics of the illicit drug may be greater because of certain restrictions on the data.

The reason why I share this is essentially to highlight the great dependence that exists in all these illegal and legal drugs.

Also to highlight the mortality and years lost by the consumption of those drugs.

I’m not interested in entering into a debate about which one is worst even though that’s how I started this article because what is clear from these statistics is that regardless of the type of drug, those are killing us.

This without mentioning the other type of drug that we know as medicines.

Both legal drugs such as alcohol or tobacco harm us directly and indirectly. According to these statistics, alcohol and tobacco seem to be drastically worse than the consumption of illicit drugs such as cannabis, but this does not mean that cannabis is good, actually it is not, since more than 483 000 people die each year for the consumption of these illicit drugs such as cannabis (according to 2015 data). Besides, these statistics have been getting worse every year.

My invitation is to start rethinking illegal or legal drugs under the same category of products that are harmful to health. Maybe many will tell me that this is already the case, but I tell them that this stops being the case when you start looking for what is worse as a way to justify the least bad.

In this way, we can encourage the development of really healthy habits instead of looking for the least worse.

Although I must admit that these statistics serve to show how harmful the consumption of tobacco and alcohol really is, which for many seemed harmless.

Since this is a health website, it is clear that I do not recommend any type of drug, even if it is legal.

Another drug that is not mentioned and that I consider very harmful is the added sugar because it is consumed in excessively high amounts. The consumption of sugar not only reduces our life expectancy through various diseases or symptoms but at the same time destroys our quality of life.

Therefore, I made this publication to change our mindset a little bit.

The food, products, and habits are divided into two:

  1. Those that provide value.
  2. Those that take away value.

Smoking, drinking alcohol, inhaling cocaine or any other drug does not provide the slightest value to our lives. There are many other things that produce pleasure and that are more productive so that is not a reason. There are many other things that help us overcome pain, depression or any other similar problem, those other solutions at the same time that they strengthen our character, they provide us with courage.

I have seen people who use drugs to be more spiritual and I can say with certainty that to be more spiritual, philosophical, or creative, it is not necessary to consume any type of drug.

In summary, there is no good excuse to consume any of these drugs.

I hope this message has served you in one way or another, and if so then subscribe to the newsletter by [clicking here] or follow me through social media as @lenusme.

Finally, don’t forget to stay healthy and to subscribe.

See you in the next post.



  • Global statistics on alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use: 2017 status report | 10 May 2018 | [Link]
  • A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters in 21 regions, 1990-2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 | Lancet. 2012 Dec 15;380(9859):2224-60. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61766-8 | [Link]
  • Global burden of disease and injury and economic cost attributable to alcohol use and alcohol-use disorders | Lancet. 2009 Jun 27;373(9682):2223-33. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60746-7 | [Link]
  • Extent of illicit drug use and dependence, and their contribution to the global burden of disease | Lancet. 2012 Jan 7;379(9810):55-70. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61138-0 | [Link]

Soy el presidente de Lenus y mi enfoque está en vivir una vida digna de vivirla por medio de tres pilares que son (1) Fortaleza Espiritual, (2) Desarrollo Empresarial y (3) Medicina Natural.

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