Alcohol is more harmful that crack cocaine or heroin, says former UK chief drugs adviser David Nutt in an article published in medical journal The Lancet.

According to Professor Nutt, scientists have found that, overall, alcohol is the most harmful of all drugs and three times as damaging as cocaine and tobacco, according to a new scale of drug harm that rates the damage to both users and to wider society.

Ecstasy and LSD are far less harmful than alcohol, the study claims.

Nutt was sacked last year for challenging ministers over their refusal to take the advice of the official Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which he chaired.

The committee wanted cannabis to remain a class C drug and for ecstasy to be downgraded from class A, arguing that these were less harmful than other drugs when social factors were taken into consideration.

After being sacked, Nutt continued to fight for the reclassification of illegal drugs and set up the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, a body which aims to investigate the drug issue without any political interference.

The latest study looked at 20 drugs on 16 measures of harm to users and to wider society. Overall, alcohol scored 72 out of a maximum ‘harm’ score of 100, compared to 55 for heroin and 54 for crack.

Heroin, crack and then crystal meth were deemed to be most harmful to individuals, but alcohol was rated most harmful to society, followed by heroin and then crack.

– Frankie Mullin