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  1. Adenosine Triphosphate
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    Adenosine Triphosphate Old Scratch Contributor

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    Alcohol vs. Ritalin vs. Tobacco

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Adenosine Triphosphate, Feb 18, 2015.

    Assuming some form of non-medical use, how do you think these substances compare to each in relative danger?
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It depends.

    Statistically, I consider tobacco to be far, far more dangerous than alcohol--a "normal" tobacco user is harming himself, while a "normal" drinker probably isn't.

    On an individual incident basis, alcohol can produce imminent danger--drunk drivers, etc.--in a way that tobacco cannot.

    I don't know the possible consequences of abusing Ritalin.
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    My guess is that Ritalin would be the most dangerous of them all in terms of non-medical abuse. It's methylphenidate, right? I thought I read somewhere that long-term abuse could be pretty serious.
     
  4. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I agree with Steerpike, I would guess Ritalin would be the more dangerous of the three. Between alcohol and tobacco - in moderation I consider tobacco is more dangerous. In excess alcohol is more dangerous. Saying that, if I could decide only one drug to be legal I don't think logically it would have been alcohol, and I say that even though I am a regular and very happy user of alcohol. I guess I would have picked something that induces more placidity, like pot or something.

    Sugar seems to be the most insidiously dangerous though - that stuff is everywhere, in everything, and is easily converted to fat.
     
  5. Adenosine Triphosphate
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    Adenosine Triphosphate Old Scratch Contributor

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    Yep. Alcohol is a serious drug (despite what many people think), and it has many of the same pitfalls as benzodiazepines and barbiturates, but its death toll falls far short of tobacco's.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
  6. Adenosine Triphosphate
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    Adenosine Triphosphate Old Scratch Contributor

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    But does it outpace the well-known and devastating long-term effects of tobacco abuse?

    And for that matter, does it outpace the impairment, organ damage, and potentially dangerous withdrawal syndrome that alcoholism can bring?
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I think for a given person, serious abuse of it could be a lot worse a lot faster, though of course alcohol can kill you quickly if you drink enough in one sitting. Thing with Ritalin abuse is, the numbers of people who really abuse the drug are probably much, much lower than the number who abuse alcohol or use tobacco.
     
  8. Adenosine Triphosphate
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    Adenosine Triphosphate Old Scratch Contributor

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    A good alcohol can binge can pose a very serious and very immediate threat to someone's health. The impairment it causes is a recipe for disaster.

    E: Of course, stimulant binges are bad for your heart, and then there's the crash to deal with—but alcohol had a counterpart to that in the hangovers it causes. Either alcohol or Ritalin can kill you in overdose, and alcohol can kill you in withdrawal.

    I'm actually not sure which is worse.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
  9. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    In and of itself, none of those would rank as the Worst in my mind. With all of the three, if you go way overboard, the results can be pretty bad. With tobacco, it's more difficult to cause immediate damage. It's more of a long-term thing, and even then a Russian roulette, you might get cancer or other serious health effects or you might not. The law seems to think MPH is the worst and most dangerous, and I guess, yeah, if you use it irresponsibly and/or overdose, it can be more dangerous than e.g. alcohol poisoning (which you can usually sleep and vomit off).
     
  10. Adenosine Triphosphate
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    Adenosine Triphosphate Old Scratch Contributor

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    I'd put alcohol as the lowest and tentatively place methylphenidate a little higher. We all know what stimulants can do in excess, but it doesn't seem to be too terribly toxic at therapeutic doses, and a recreational user does not actually have to significantly exceed them.

    Tobacco is the most dangerous of the three in my mind. It belongs in the same tier as cocaine and heroin, at least in their pure forms. It might not inspire as much fear, but when it kills over 400,000 people a year in the United States alone, it's difficult to view it as anything less than a hard drug.
     
  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't agree. I think cocaine and heroine are in an entirely different category. And I think you should separate nicotine (a drug) from tobacco (a plant) and look at the effect of just the drug itself and not physical effects due to smoking that would apply to anything. Otherwise you're comparing apples and oranges.
     
  12. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    A quick number crunch for U.S. statistics:
    0.7% of current tobacco users will die as a result based on 480,000 tobacco related deaths and an estimated 66 million users
    .07% of people who use alcohol will die as a result of alcohol abuse based on 56.3% of Americans over age 18 reporting consumption of alcohol in past month.
     
  13. Adenosine Triphosphate
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    Adenosine Triphosphate Old Scratch Contributor

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    Why?

    Nicotine itself may be more benign, in the same way that taking Ritalin orally is safer than shooting or snorting it, but smoked tobacco is a toxic, cancer-causing substance that racks up an enormous death toll every year, and the "physical effects of smoking" on the heart and lungs are no more separate from it than alcohol and its physical effects on the liver. It most certainly can compete with those feared stimulants and opioids in terms of danger, at least if you aren't shooting them. It isn't the same thing, of course, but the cultural protection and whitewashing it enjoys is a farce. It is a hard drug masquerading as a mild vice.

    Not to mention, tobacco contains harmala alkaloids, which nicotine itself does not. It is a somewhat different drug pharmacologically.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2015
  14. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yep. My mother was a pretty light smoker and quit early. My father was a fairly heavy smoker but quit early. Both of them lost the last decade or two (or three) of their lives due to diseases that were directly attributed to the smoking. Yeah, they were approaching the "something's going to kill you eventually" age, but "eventually" came far earlier than it needed to.

    I'd vote to outlaw cigarettes, without a second thought.
     
  15. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Having used them all, I'd say alcohol is by far and away the most dangerous.
     
  16. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Why outlaw them? Shouldn't people be free to harm themselves directly so long as they aren't also doing direct harm to others?
     
  17. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    In the US, according to the CDC:
    ~443,000 annual deaths are attributed to smoking.

    Alcohol related deaths are ~87,798 per year.

    The ritalin data is a bit harder to find because there are anti-treating-ADHD groups that put out biased facts. In addition, there is a much smaller population taking ritalin so direct numbers are not comparable, the denominators differ. The direct number of deaths attributable to ritalin is tiny compared to alcohol and cigarettes.

    One should also point out that smokers drink and drinkers smoke. It's not clear from this data if a person who does both and dies of a heart attack is put in one category or double counted. And if either is true about the data it makes the numbers less precise.

    Given the data even with those limitations, my vote goes to cigarettes, followed by alcohol.
     
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  18. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you use that same argument to sell heroin and cocaine on grocery shelves, dandy. Otherwise, I include tobacco in the list of things too harmful to be legal.
     
  19. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I use the same argument for any drug that doesn't create a serious risk of someone becoming violent and hurting someone else. Of those mentioned in this thread, alcohol is the worst for that. I think something like PCP creates an unreasonable risk as well. But alcohol can be used without that risk, whereas I'm not sure PCP can, so I wouldn't favor making that legal.
     
  20. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    If we hadn't, for decades, had large corporations dedicated to pushing tobacco, and it were instead a funny little-known herb that you had to seek out in corner shops, I wouldn't be advocating that it be outlawed. But that's not the situation, so I am.

    I would be delighted if every single teenager smoking a cigarette on a corner were stopped, ticketed, and charged with a misdemeanor and a fine, so that they had to choose between tobacco and being able to afford gas for the car. I'm pretty sure they'd choose the car.
     
  21. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Children are another matter. I'm fine with regulating it for them, as you might do with anything for non-adults. I'm generally content to let adults do what they want so long as they aren't hurting others.
     
  22. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Good attempt at a proper denominator. Your numbers make sense. However, how many of those people drank and smoked and can you remove the variable of synergism and to which substance should cause be applied?

    Not to belittle your results, mind you, my numbers were equally flawed.
     
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  23. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, it's moderately hard to smoke without hurting others--if you smoke, everyone nearby, and everyone who enters the same space later, smokes with you. That's another issue with tobacco.
     
  24. Adenosine Triphosphate
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    Adenosine Triphosphate Old Scratch Contributor

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    I'd like to see it lose its popularity, but I don't think prohibition would solve the problem any better than it has with alcohol in the past or marijuana or opioids in the present. People wouldn't stop smoking, and the industry would go to the gangs. The War on Drugs is flawed enough as it is without compounding it further.

    In addition to that, I don't think rounding smokers up and locking them in an environment where they could be raped or killed is justifiable, even if many of them would gladly do the same to other drug users.
     
  25. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm calling in @jannert.

    If I remember correctly, she is a psychiatrist and her opinion is probably far greater than any of ours.
     
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