The addictive and destructive nature of alcohol could make it more dangerous than illegal drugs

According to a new report written by a team of experts, alcohol is more dangerous than heroin and crack cocaine. The study, led by controversial Professor David Nutt, evaluated addictive substances including alcohol, cocaine, heroin and ecstasy.

Using a scale for 1-100 based on how destructive they are to the individual and society at large, alcohol was scored at 72, while heroin came in second with 55 points, followed closely by crack cocaine with 54 points.

Crystal meth scored 33 points, tobacco 26 points and cannabis 20 points based on criteria including the drugís capacity to kill, itís addictiveness, the effect on mental functioning, injuries stemming from use and its power to end relationships.

Professor Nutt, from Imperial College London claims the way of assessing the effects of drugs needs to be reviewed. 'What a new classification system might look like would depend on what set of harms you are trying to reduce,' he says. 'But if you take overall harm, then alcohol, heroin and crack are clearly more harmful than all others.í

Campaigners say the problem of drinking is not only damaging to individuals but to society as a whole and should be tackled in the same way as smoking.

'Too many of our streets and town and city centres are plagued by shouting, vomiting, fights, urination and other rowdy behaviour,' says Mathew Bennett, chairman of Open All Hours campaign group.

Alcohol-related crime and disorder is thought to cost £13billion a year.