Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Drugs and Toxicity

The Toxicity of Recreational Drugs

"How then does one gauge the relative risks of different recreational drugs? One way is to consider the ratio of effective dose to lethal dose. For example, a normally healthy 70-kilogram (154-pound) adult can achieve a relaxed affability from approximately 33 grams of ethyl alcohol. This effective dose can come from two 12-ounce beers, two 5-ounce glasses of wine or two 1.5-ounce shots of 80-proof vodka. The median lethal dose for such an adult is approximately 330 grams, the quantity contained in about 20 shots of vodka. A person who consumes that much (10 times the median effective dose), taken within a few minutes on an empty stomach, risks a lethal reaction. And plenty of people have died this way."

"The most toxic recreational drugs, such as GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) and heroin, have a lethal dose less than 10 times their typical effective dose. The largest cluster of substances has a lethal dose that is 10 to 20 times the effective dose: These include cocaine, MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine, often called "ecstasy") and alcohol. A less toxic group of substances, requiring 20 to 80 times the effective dose to cause death, include Rohypnol (flunitrazepam or "roofies") and mescaline (peyote cactus). The least physiologically toxic substances, those requiring 100 to 1,000 times the effective dose to cause death, include psilocybin mushrooms and marijuana, when ingested. I've found no published cases in the English language that document deaths from smoked marijuana, so the actual lethal dose is a mystery. My surmise is that smoking marijuana is more risky than eating it but still safer than getting drunk.


Alcohol thus ranks at the dangerous end of the toxicity spectrum. So despite the fact that about 75 percent of all adults in the United States enjoy an occasional drink, it must be remembered that alcohol is quite toxic. Indeed, if alcohol were a newly formulated beverage, its high toxicity and addiction potential would surely prevent it from being marketed as a food or drug. "


So the least lethal drugs in our society are illegal while alcohol which is a highly lethal drug, is available on the shelves of your local liquor store. If drugs are illegal because they are a danger to society, then we have it ass backwards.
Doesn't make much sense does it?

2 comments:

Ribonuff said...

Thank you for posting this - interesting food for thought.
Nutmeg?! Tell me more.
I heard anecdotally about nutmeg in high school, and tried some a few times, but I never felt anathing. I guess I didn't take the recreational dose.
From the graph you posted, it looks like the recreational dose is close to the lethal dose - yikes!

The Duck said...

Amen, I say we prohibit all forms of alcohol in this country. We'd have to come up with some kind of snappy name for it though. Hmm, let's see. I got it! Since we're prohibiting the use of alcohol, let's call it prohibition! Such an endeavor could not possibly fail!

Obviously, that paragraph was written with my virtual tongue planted firmly in my virtual cheek, but what is your point? I think it's a widely agreed upon fact that our government is extremely hypocritical when it comes to the sale of alcohol and cigarettes, when such substances are obviously severely detrimental to society. I wouldn't necessarily use this as a platform to say that marijuana should be legalized, even though I generally agree with that statement too.

The biggest thing I got out of this is that nutmeg is obviously extremely dangerous! Although what is the "effective" dose for nutmeg anyway?

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