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Vol. 16, No. 4, 2010
Issue release date: September 2010
Eur Addict Res 2010;16:202–207

Ranking the Harm of Alcohol, Tobacco and Illicit Drugs for the Individual and the Population

van Amsterdam J. · Opperhuizen A. · Koeter M. · van den Brink W.
aLaboratory for Health Protection Research, RIVM, Bilthoven; bAcademic Medical Center University of Amsterdam, Department of Psychiatry, and cAmsterdam Institute for Addiction Research, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Drug policy makers continuously face a changing pattern of drug use, i.e. new drugs appear on the market, the popularity of certain drugs changes or drugs are used in another way or another combination. For legislative purposes, drugs have mostly been classified according to their addictive potency. Such classifications, however, lack a scientific basis. The present study describes the results of a risk assessment study where 19 recreational drugs (17 illicit drugs plus alcohol and tobacco) used in the Netherlands have been ranked by a Dutch expert panel according to their harm based on the scientific state of the art. The study applies a similar approach as recently applied by Nutt et al. [Lancet 2007;369:1047–1053], so that the results of both studies could be compared. The harm indicators scored are acute and chronic toxicity, addictive potency and social harm. The aim of this study is to evaluate whether the legal classification of drugs in the Netherlands corresponds with the ranking of the drugs according to their science-based ranking of harm. Based on the results, recommendations are formulated about the legal classification of recreational drugs at national and international level which serves a rational approach for drug control.

Copyright / Drug Dosage

Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.


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    External Resources

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