Visualising the Guardian Datablog

Friday, November 6th, 2009

I’m doing a regular weekly visualisation for the excellent Guardian Datablog, the front-end for an amazing library of statistics and data, lovingly hand-gathered by The Guardian.

My first post is about Deadly Drugs.

There’s been a furore over here in the UK about the dangers of illegal drugs. The Government has sacked its most senior drugs advisor, Dr Professor Nutt, after he claimed cannabis was no more harmful than alcohol. And that horse-riding, and specifically ‘equasy’ (Equine Addiction Syndrome) was riskier than taking ecstasy. (Statistically he’s correct. His study here.).

Anyway, digging at the numbers behind his statements and how drugs are reported in the popular press, I found some stuff I didn’t expect about drug harms.

Check out the article on The Guardian blog for detail and data. You want both right?

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Show Comments ( )

  • Victor

    This is a badly label, and borders on misleading. The “Deadliest Drugs” are not the drugs that kill the most people, but the ones that kill the most users of the drug.

    If you had divided the number of deaths caused by Cocaine by the number of cocaine users, you would likely find that it is deadlier than alcohol, which is used by a huge number of people.

    The alarmist press gives too much airtime to many things, including these drugs, but not for the reasons you try to point out.

  • Daniel

    Facts are misrepresented. A better way to show this would be show the number of how many people abuse a drug versus how many die as a direct effect of having used the drug. These numbers appear to assume that illegal drugs are used as much as legal drugs.

    • david

      re: conflicting data about alcohol deaths

      My figures deal with acute poisonings related to alcohol and other drugs.

      Not chronic deaths occurring from long term drinking and alcoholism, as I suspect the 7500 level figures being quoted here are.

      see here

      under the sheet called ‘DIGESTIVE SYSTEM’

      liver disease figures are around 7500.


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  • john

    19 deaths.but 92 reports of death.hmmmmm

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  • Tim

    People are misinterpreting the point of this data. It’s not an expression of how dangerous a given drug us, for which a deaths to users ratio would indeed be more accurate. It’s a representation of how deaths relating to a substance are reported by the media, so the poputation of users for specific drugs is pretty irrelevant.

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  • Derp Howitzer

    Seriously, how does one take a fatal dose of cannabis? I’ve been trying to do that since high school, to no avail.

  • bo55

    We need to be careful about conclusions we draw. Cocaine may not kill you but the life you liv eif you become addicted may be worse than death

  • Alex

    you’re wrong. there have never been any deaths from marijuana. ever.

    • Sean

      Hell ya man bud has never hurt anyone that shits as harmless as dandelions

  • Matthew Sands

    I know the * indicates “questionable”, but how can it read 19 for cannabis. There are no confirmed deaths resulting directly from cannabis use. Partly because it is basically impossible to overdose on cannabis and cannabis use, even heavy use, has yet to show a confirmed negative health effect. It does however show significant, and confirmed, medical benefit, including anti cancer, anti diabetic, anti psycotic, anti bacterial and analgesic (to name just a few) effects.