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  • Death by drug overdose has been on the rise in the US, with a 2.2-fold increase from 2002

  • to 2015.

  • But what is the most dangerous drug in the world? [Illustrated by Kurzgesagt.]

  • If we're simply talking about the most lethal substances, scientists use something called

  • themedian lethal doseor LD50 which measures how much of a substance is required

  • to kill half the members of a tested population.

  • So something like coffee requires around 13g to kill a 70kg person, while the venom of

  • an Inland Taipan snake requires much less, with only 0.00175g.

  • Using this method, the most deadly substance on Earth?

  • Botulinum Toxin...or Botox.

  • Oral ingestion would require only 0.00000007g to kill a 70kg person.

  • However, 'most dangerous' doesn't always mean 'most lethal'.

  • In the UK, a group of experts decided to look at how muchharmthe most common recreational

  • drugs cause using 16 parameters, including types of physical, psychological and social harm.

  • For example, a drug may cause physical damage but not be lethal, it could cause you to become

  • completely dependent, it can be more likely to cause loss of relationships, or decreased

  • mental functioning; and these are all forms of 'harm'.

  • Using these criteria, they concluded that the most dangerous drug to an individual is heroin.

  • Heroin can be injected, snorted, or smoked, and enters the brain rapidly, particularly

  • when injected into the bloodstream.

  • Here, it attaches to opioid receptors, creating a surge of pleasurable sensations.

  • It's also highly addictive, with intense withdrawal symptoms that begin within hours

  • of a hit, including insomnia, cold flashes, muscle and bone pain, nausea and vomiting.

  • Receptors in the brainstem are also affected, impacting important physiological processes

  • such as breathing and blood pressure.

  • Which is why overdosing causes breathing to slow or stop entirely, leading to the accumulation

  • of CO2 in the blood and ultimately death.

  • And since heroin is unregulated, it is especially difficult for users to know the strength of

  • the dose, making the risk of OD-ing high.

  • Additionally, the drug can be mixed with other compounds, like Fentanyl, making it even more

  • dangerous.

  • Fentanyl, like heroin, is an opiate but is 50-100 times as strong because it is very

  • lipophilic - meaning it penetrates our fatty brain more easily.

  • And in terms of lethality alone, it is much more dangerous than heroin to users.

  • It was initially used as a prescription pain reliever but because of its addictiveness,

  • it was mostly used in end of life cases.

  • It has since emerged as a recreational drug, where the number of reported fentanyl related

  • overdoses has increased 7X from 2012 to 2014 in the US, and continues to see more widespread

  • use worldwide.

  • But there is an even more dangerous drug!

  • Though crack cocaine and methamphetamine top the list of harm to an individual just after

  • heroin, finding the most dangerous drug overall involved studying 20 different popular drugs,

  • and also looking at the harm they place on others.

  • This includes the physical and psychological harm, crime, degradation to families and communities,

  • and economic costs - and in the end it turns out the most dangerous drug in the world is

  • alcohol.

  • To ensure this wasn't simply a UK phenomenon, a European group attempted the same process

  • putting more emphasis on individual harm and less on economic harm.

  • And even with the different weightings the two groups found largely the same result.

  • A large contributor to the danger of alcohol is its wide use.

  • The majority of the world does drink (61.7%), and drink a lot, with an average of 17 litres

  • of pure alcohol consumed per person per year.

  • The World Health Organization found 3.3 million deaths worldwide were caused by dangerous

  • alcohol consumption in 2012, meaning alcohol kills 1 person every 10 seconds.

  • But experts don't recommend a prohibition stance on alcohol.

  • By all accounts, the war on drugs has been deemed a failure, and nations who have stepped

  • away from hardline policies and implemented decriminalization, harm reduction and education,

  • have seen significant declines of drug abuse.

  • If you'd like to learn more about the failure of the war on drugs, check out In A Nutshell's

  • video, who so brilliantly helped us animate this video!

  • A huge thanks to them for helping out, and continuing to inspire us with their intelligent

  • and well designed videos.

  • You can also check out our drug series, if you'd like to learn more about the impact

  • of specific drugs, like marijuana, cocaine, and lsd, on your brain!

  • And subscribe for more weekly science videos!

Death by drug overdose has been on the rise in the US, with a 2.2-fold increase from 2002

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What Is The Most Dangerous Drug In The World? ft. In A Nutshell (Kurzgesagt)

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    Samuel posted on 2018/02/09
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