Drugs: the real deal

This is the first ranking based upon scientific evidence of harm to both individuals and society. It was devised by government advisers - then ignored by ministers because of its controversial findings

Saturday 17 September 2011 12:31
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1: Heroin (Class A)
ORIGIN: Vast majority comes from poppy fields of Afghanistan
MEDICAL: Sedative made from the opium poppy. Can be smoked or injected to produce a 'rush'. Users feel lethargic but experience severe cravings for the drug
NO. OF UK USERS: 40,000
NO. OF UK DEATHS IN 2004: 744
STREET VALUE: £30-100 a gram
DANGER RATING: 2.75/3

2: Cocaine (Class A)
ORIGIN: Made from coca shrubs from Colombia and Bolivia
MEDICAL: Stimulant made from leaves of the coca bush. Increases alertness and confidence but raises heart rate and blood pressure and users will crave it
NO. OF UK USERS: 800,000
NO. OF UK DEATHS IN 2004: 147
STREET VALUE: £30-55 a gram
DANGER RATING: 2.25/3

3: Barbiturates (Class B)
ORIGIN: Synthetic lab-made drugs, used to be prominent in clubs
MEDICAL:Powerful sedatives. Widely prescribed as sleeping pills but dangerous in overdose and now superseded by safer drugs
NO. OF UK USERS: Not many
NO. OF UK DEATHS IN 2004: 14
STREET VALUE: £1-2 a tablet
DANGER RATING: 2.10/3

4: Street Methadone (Class A)
ORIGIN: Synthetic drug similar to heroin but less addictive
MEDICAL: Similar to morphine and heroin and used to wean addicts off these drugs because it is less sedating. Street versions may be contaminated
NO. OF UK USERS: 20,000
NO. OF UK DEATHS IN 2004: 200
STREET VALUE: £2 a dose
DANGER RATING: 1.90/3

5: Alcohol (Legal)
ORIGIN: Brewed across the world in many different forms
MEDICAL:Central nervous system depressant used to reduce inhibitions and increase sociability. Increasing doses lead to intoxication, coma and respiratory failure
NO. OF UK USERS: Most adults
NO. OF UK DEATHS IN 2004: 22,000
STREET VALUE: £2.25 pint of lager
DANGER RATING: 1.85/3

6: Ketamine (Class C)
ORIGIN: Anaesthetic drug popular on club and rave scene
MEDICAL:Intravenous anaesthetic used on humans and animals which, when taken in tablet form, creates hallucinatory experiences
NO. OF UK USERS: Unknown
NO. OF UK DEATHS IN 2004: N/A
STREET VALUE: £15-50 a gram
DANGER RATING: 1.80/3

7: Benzodiazopines (Class C)
ORIGIN: Tranquilisers used to beat anxiety and insomnia
MEDICAL:The most common prescription tranquillisers. Effective sedatives which have a calming effect, reducing anxiety, but are addictive
NO. OF UK USERS: 160,000
NO. OF UK DEATHS IN 2004: 206
STREET VALUE: Prescription drug
DANGER RATING: 1.75/3

8: Amphetamines (Class B)
ORIGIN: Synthetic stimulants snorted, mixed in drink or injected
MEDICAL:Man-made drugs that increase heart rate and alertness. Users may feel paranoid. Newer form, methamphetamine, is addictive
NO. OF UK USERS: 650,000
NO. OF UK DEATHS IN 2004: 33
STREET VALUE: £2-10 a gram
DANGER RATING: 1.70/3

9: Tobacco (Legal)
ORIGIN: Most of the leaf comes from the Americas
MEDICAL: Contains nicotine, a fast-acting stimulant which is highly addictive. Tobacco causes lung cancer and increases the risk of heart disease
NO. OF UK USERS: 12.5m
NO. OF UK DEATHS IN 2004: 114,000
STREET VALUE: £4.50 a packet
DANGER RATING: 1.65/3

10: Buprenorphine (Class C)
ORIGIN: Can be made in a laboratory
MEDICAL: More expensive alternative to methadone used to wean addicts off heroin. Preferred by some addicts because it leaves them more 'clear headed'
NO. OF UK USERS: Unknown
NO. OF UK DEATHS IN 2004: N/A
STREET VALUE: Unknown
DANGER RATING: 1.55/3

11: Cannabis (Class C)
ORIGIN: Plant is easily cultivated in temperate climates
MEDICAL: Leaves of the cannabis sativa plant or resin can be smoked or eaten. It is a relaxant but stronger forms can also cause hallucinations and panic attacks
NO. OF UK USERS: 3m
NO. OF UK DEATHS IN 2004: 16
£40-100 an ounce
DANGER RATING: 1.40/3

12: Solvents (Legal)
ORIGIN: Organic compounds found in glues, paints, lighter fluid
MEDICAL: Includes glue, gas lighters, some aerosols and paint thinners. Produces euphoria and loss of inhibitions but can cause blackouts and death
NO. OF UK USERS: 37,000
NO. OF UK DEATHS IN 2004: 53
STREET VALUE: £9.99 a tin of paint
DANGER RATING: 1.35/3

13: 4-MTA (Class A)
ORIGIN: Amphetamine derivative; similar effects to ecstasy
MEDICAL: Amphetamine derivative, similar to ecstasy, and also known as 'flatliners'. Popular dance drug, producing feelings of euphoria
NO. OF UK USERS: Unknown
NO. OF UK DEATHS IN 2004: N/A
STREET VALUE: Unknown
DANGER RATING: 1.30/3

14: LSD (Class A)
ORIGIN: Hallucinogenic, synthetic drug more popular in 1960s
MEDICAL: Man-made drug that has a strong effect on perception. Effects include hallucinations and loss of sense of time. A 'bad trip' can cause anxiety
NO. OF UK USERS: 70,000
NO. OF UK DEATHS IN 2004: N/A
STREET VALUE: £1-5 a tab
DANGER RATING: 1.25/3

15: Methylphenidate (Class B)
ORIGIN: Medicine, similar to amphetamines
MEDICAL: The chemical name for Ritalin, the stimulant drug used to treat children with attention deficit hyperactive disorder which helps them concentrate
NO. OF UK USERS: Unknown
NO. OF UK DEATHS IN 2004: N/A
STREET VALUE: Unknown
DANGER RATING: 1.20/3

16: Anabolic Steroids (Class C)
ORIGIN: Hormones used by bodybuilders and sportsmen
MEDICAL: Synthetic drugs that have a similar effect to hormones such as testosterone. Used by body builders to increase muscle bulk
NO. OF UK USERS: 38,000
NO. OF UK DEATHS IN 2004: N/A
STREET VALUE: £7.99 a tablet
DANGER RATING: 1.15/3

17: GHB (Class C)
ORIGIN: Synthetic drug, sold as 'liquid ecstasy'
MEDICAL: The date rape drug, Gammahydroxybutyrate, is a sedative that has a relaxing effect, reducing inhibitions, but can lead to stiff muscles and fits
NO. OF UK USERS: Not many
NO. OF UK DEATHS IN 2004: 3
STREET VALUE: £15 a bottle
DANGER RATING: 1.10/3

18: Ecstasy (Class A)
ORIGIN: Synthetic drug in tablets; popular in dance scene
MEDICAL: MDMA or similar man-made chemicals. Causes adrenaline rushes and feelings of wellbeing but also anxiety and high body temperature
NO. OF UK USERS: 800,000
NO. OF UK DEATHS IN 2004: 33
STREET VALUE: £1-5 a pill
DANGER RATING: 1.05/3

19: Alkyl Nitrites (Legal)
ORIGIN: Liquid, better known as 'poppers'; inhaled
MEDICAL: Gives a strong, joyous rush and a burst of energy for a few minutes which quickly fades and can leave a powerful headache
NO. OF UK USERS: 550,000
NO. OF UK DEATHS IN 2004: N/A
STREET VALUE: £2-6 for 10ml
DANGER RATING: 0.95/3

20: Khat (Legal)
ORIGIN: Green-leaf shrub grown in region of Southern Africa
MEDICAL: Natural stimulant, its leaves are chewed to produce a feeling of wellbeing and happiness. Popular with the Somali community
NO. OF UK USERS: 40,000
NO. OF UK DEATHS IN 2004: Not many
STREET VALUE: £4 a bunch
DANGER RATING: 0.80/3

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