More stats:


o 140 million Americans use alcohol

o 18 million of these abuse alcohol or are alcoholics.

o 100,000 deaths are due to alcohol, and an additional

100,000 deaths are alcohol related.


o 12.2 million Americans used cocaine at least once in 1985.

o 250,000 used it weekly.

o In 1986, there were almost 1000 cocaine-induced deaths.

Now let's recalculate.

Deaths per user:

Alcohol = 100,000/140,000,000 = .07 % or 70 per 100,000

Cocaine = 1,000/ 12,200,000 = .008 % or 8 per 100,000

Deaths per abuser:

Alcohol = 100,000/18,000,000 = .56 % or 56 per 10,000

Cocaine = 1,000/ 250,000 = .40 % or 40 per 10,000

So even considering abusers, with advantage to alcohol (probably

should be over 1%), cocaine is still healthier.

By the way, you reported earlier the number 6000 for

illegal drug deaths. But:

o National Council on Alcoholism estimated that in 1985

all illegal drugs combined killed 3562 Americans

[Most of these numbers are gleaned from an essay by Ethan Nadelmann

called The Case for Legalization. It is found in:

The Drug Legalization Debate. (ed. Inciardi, James A.),

Sage publications, 1991. ISBN 0-8039-3677-{X or 8pbk}.

It is a good book and should be referenced in our FAQ file.]


From: [email protected]

The exact numbers vary, depending on the source and their

methodology. I have presented several sets of numbers here.

In general you will see that the vast amount of money/energy/etc.

applied to "illicit" drugs is quite misplaced if one is counting

deaths or death rate per user.

You may have access in your library to things like the Center for

Disease Control Mortality and Morbidity reports and yearly summaries.

The last one I looked at listed 800 something deaths a year

for aspirin (and more for acetominephin (sp?) and ibuprofen) -

verses 0 for cannabis (hemp/pot/marijuana/...).


(on the back cover of The Emperor Wears No Clothes)

"How Dangerous is Marijuana in Comparison to Other Substances?"

Number of American Deaths per year that result directly or

primarily from the following (selected) causes nationwide,

according to World Almanacs, Life Insurance Actuarial (death)

Rates, and the last 18 years of the U.S. Surgeon General's Reports.

Tobacco....................................340,000 to 395,000

Alcohol (not includeing 50% of all highway

deaths and 65% of all murders).....125,000+

Aspirin (including deliberate overdose).... 180 to 1,000+

Caffeine (from stress, ulcers and triggering

irregular heartbeats, etc.)........ 1,000 to 10,000

'Legal' drug overdose (deliberate or accidental)

from legal, prescribed or patent medicines

and/or mixing with alcohol e.g. Valium/alcohol... 14,000 to 27,000

Illicit drug overdose (deliberate or accidental) from

all illegal drugs................................ 3,800 to 5,200

marijuana (including overdose)........................... 0 (zero)


The Emperor Wears No Clothes

by Jack Herer

available from:

H.E.M.P. Publishing

5632 Van Nuys Blvd suite 210

Van Nuys CA 91401 (213) 392-1806


from Thinking About Drug Legalization

by James Ostrowski

Cato Institute Paper # 121, May 25, 1989 $2.00

to order or for information, write

Policy Analysis

Cato Institute

224 Second St. SE

Washington DC 20003

pg 47 reprinted without permission (I didn't find "Copyright..." or circled-C,

but they did say to contact them... I guess if you want to reprint

the whole thing - what the hey - at $2.00 for 64 pages why reprint,

just buy the whole thing from them!

[ my (glo's) the posters notes in [] - glo]

[ glo note: *xxx* used in place of underlines - glo]


pg 47

Table 4 presents the estimated per capita death rates

for each drug. (While a number of people have died as a result

of marijuana *enforcement*, there are apparently no confirmed

deaths traceable to marijuana *use*.) The figures for cocaine

and heroin have been adjusted downward, in accordance with

the previous analysis, to include only those deaths due to drug

use per se. The unadjusted death rate for these drugs is in


[glo note: the "previous analysis" details how overdose due to]

[ variable strength and toxic reactions and infections due to]

[ the uncontrolled black market in drugs causes most of the]

[ deaths due to "heroin and cocaine" use - glo]

Estimated Per Capita Death Rates by Drugs


Drug Users Deaths per Year Deaths per 100,000


Tobacco 60 million 390,000 (a) 650

alcohol 100 million 150,000 (b) 150

Heroin 500,000 400 (c) 80 (400)

Cocaine 5 million 200 (c) 4 (20)


[ glo note: the astute reader will notice that even contaminated]

[ street heroin is safer than cigarettes, and cocaine is much safer]

[ than even alcohol. (the crack form is apparently more addicting]

[ than alcohol - but not nicotine, powder is less addicting than alcohol -]

[ see "Hooked Not Hooked") Pot is, well..., "absolutely safe" in]

[ terms of causing death itself. And how many traffic deaths per]

[ year: 20,000+ ? - glo]

(a) "Reducing the Health Consequences of Smoking:

25 Years of Progress" Surgeon General's Report (1989).

(b) Estimates vary greatly, depending upon whether all health

consequences, or only those traditionally associated with

alcoholism, are considered. The Fifth Special Report to the

U.S. Congress on Alcoholism and Health from the Secretary of

Health and Human Services contains two references indicating

a death toll of 200,000: The report states, first, that alcohol

"plays a role in 10% of all deaths in the United States,"

which comes to about 200,000 deaths each year. P. vi. It further

states that present estimates of the death toll from alcohol

abuse are as high as 93.2 per 100,000. Ibid., p. x. This

ratio translates into a total of about 210,000.

(c) These figures were determined as follows: Drug Abuse Warning

Network (DAWN) heroin and cocaine fatalities for 1984, 1985,

and 1986 were averaged. The number of suicides was subtracted.

The figures were discounted to account for deaths in which

both heroin and cocaine played a role. Since DAWN covers

about one-third of the nation's population but almost all

major urban areas where drug use florishes, totals were doubled

to arrive at yearly estimates of 2,000 for heroin deaths and

1,000 for cocaine deaths. Finally, these figures were dis-

counted by 80 percent in accordance with the analysis presented

in the text

========== end of table 4, pg 47======================

and if you want to get some info on addiction, find this magazine article:

(and its references)

Hooked Not Hooked

by Deborah Franklin

In Health (ISSN 1047-0549)

November/December 1990 Volume 4 Number 6

(no address for back issues listed, main address:)

In Health

c/o Hippocrates Partners

475 Gate 5 Road suite 225

Sausalito CA 94965


From: [email protected]

Date: 7 Sep 91 19:25:39 GMT

Newsgroups: alt.drugs

Subject: For your perusal -- U.S. Surgeon General's Actuarial info

The following is a list of deaths by substance for 1990.

Tobacco . . . . . . . . . . . . 360,000 [legal]

Alcohol . . . . . . . . . . . . 130,000 [legal]

Prescribed drugs . . . . . . . 18,675 [legal]

Caffeine . . . . . . . . . . . 5,800 [legal]

Cocaine . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,390 [illegal]

Heroin . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,147 [illegal]

Aspirin . . . . . . . . . . . . 986 [legal]

Marijuana . . . . . . . . . . . 0 [illegal]


Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1993 14:35:10 -0700 (PDT)

From: Leora Lawton

Subject: drug survey results

To: Multiple recipients of list DRUGABUS

Message-id: <[email protected]>

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Illegal drug use is off sharply among American

teen-agers and adults with one glaring exception: those 35 and


Those were the key findings from an annual survey on drug abuse

released Wednesday by federal health officials.

Some 11.4 million Americans age 12 or older were classified as

current users of illegal drugs in 1992, down 11 percent from almost

13 million drug users a year earlier. That means they had used

drugs in the month before the survey.

The number has been declining steadily since 1979, when the same

survey indicated that 24 million Americans had used illicit drugs.

Adults 35 and older _ including the baby boomers who grew up in

the permissive 1960s _ are bucking the trend. Use of drugs in that

age group is the same now as it was back in 1979.

The older adults now comprise 23 percent of illegal drug users,

compared to just 10 percent in 1979.

The number of current cocaine users plummeted 31 percent from

1.9 million in 1991 to 1.3 million in 1992. The federal Substance

Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which conducted

the survey, said that was down from a peak of 5.8 million in 1985.

Occasional cocaine use _ less than once a month _ was down by

900,000, to 3.4 million. But the number of frequent users _ at

least weekly _ stood unchanged at 640,000.

Marijuana remains the illegal drug of choice, used by 78 percent

of those who tried illegal drugs in 1992.

An estimated 98 million Americans drank alcohol in the month

before the survey; 10 million were defined as heavy drinkers _ five

or more drinks on five or more days in the past 30 days.

The survey also indicated that 54 million Americans, or 26

percent of the population, were cigarette smokers. Some 7.5 million

used smokeless tobacco.

Other statistics:

_Six percent of 12-to-17-year-olds were current users of illegal

drugs; 13 percent of 18-to-25-year-olds and 10 percent of

26-to-34-year-olds used drugs.

_Most illegal drug users were white (8.7 million or 76 percent);

14 percent were black (1.6 million); 8 percent were Hispanic


_More men than women used illicit drugs: 7.1 percent versus 4.1


_Almost 21 percent of unemployed 18-to-34-year-olds were illegal

drug users, nearly double the rate for those with jobs.

The survey was based on in-person interviews of 28,832 people

who were promised confidentiality.


From: Charlie Ksir

Date: Thu, 21 Apr 1994 10:31:10 -0600

Subject: Re: choices

>Richard Hammersley writes:


>>Surely traffic accidents are the most common fatal result of drug abuse

>>and I hope this list doesn't separate off alcohol from drugs.


Dan Drumm replies:


>I thought it was lung cancer, then traffic accidents.

>I don't know what comes next, but I sure would be interested if

>anyone can reference any research on this.


In this context, I expect it's really heart disease first. I assume Danny

was talking about tobacco. A table published in 1991 by the US Centers

for Disease Control, based on 1988 data, estimates something called

"Smoking-Attributable Mortality" as follows:

All heart diseases : 150, 320

Cancer of lung, trachea, & bronchus: 111,985

Other non-cancerous respiratory diseases, including bronchitis, emphysema,

chronic airways obstruction, pneumonia, & influenza add up to 81,339.

And let's not forget the circulatory problems other than coronary heart

disease: add up smoking-attributable deaths from hypertension, strokes,

atheroschlerosis, aortic aneurysm, and "other arterial disease", and you

get 50,682.

I just grabbed the 1987 Alcohol & Health report to the U.S. Congress off my

shelf ('m sure there's a newer one around here somewhere, but can't lay my

hands on it). Estimated mortality data in it were based on 1980 numbers,

and had motor vehicle traffic accidents attributable to alcohol at 25, 965.

That estimate would be smaller today, because total traffic accidents are

down from over 50,000 in 1980 to under 40,000, and the proportion of

fatally-injured drivers with a BAL > 0.10 declined from over 50% in 1980 to

about 40% (last stuff taken from Ray & Ksir, 1993). Let's say about


If the question was, what's the "most common fatal result of drug (ab)use",

including alcohol and tobacco, then heart disease is the winner, especially

when you consider that heavy alcohol use also contributes to heart disease.

Various cancers would be next, since smoking is associated with other

kinds of cancer besides lungs (mouth, esophagus, pancreas, etc), and

alcohol is too (mouth, stomach). The total would approach the heart

disease total. Next would be other respiratory diseases, to which alcohol

contributes a few thousand extra pneumonia and influenza deaths, and then

circulatory problems (alcohol adds a few here, too). All of these are way

above the number of alcohol-attributed traffic accidents.

There are other differences, of course. The average age of an

alcohol-related traffic fatality is much younger than the avergae age of

those dying from these "diseases of chronic exposure", and may be seen

therefore as more tragic in that same way that a drug overdose death or

suicide of a young person is seen. On the other hand, these younger

victims have a greater chance of dying quickly, whereas most of the deaths

attributable to chronic smoking or drinking result in long, painful, and

expensive illnesses before death.

Hope this morbid thread doesn't have too long a life, but I thought I could

contribute some official US Government data.

.... Charlie Ksir The opinions herein are my own,

.... University of Wyoming so leave my employer alone.

Check out my site: