Richard Ferris (letters, Aug. 17) wrote that “an exhaustive study of heroin overdoses” found that almost all, “perhaps 100 percent,” of heroin overdoses involved alcohol. Curious about this figure, I briefly examined recent mortality data provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration which reveals that, although single-drug deaths do occur with heroin, alcohol-related deaths are more prevalent, and alcohol-related deaths most often include combinations of other drugs taken along with alcohol. So I agree that alcohol is a very dangerous drug and that it becomes much more dangerous when combined with other drugs, especially opiates and sedatives.
The deadliest drug of all, which neither The Tribune nor Ferris mentioned, is tobacco. Alcohol is linked to more social ills than any other drug (including crime, child abuse, domestic violence, drunken driving, suicide, etc.), but tobacco has the edge in mortality. So I do think that The Tribune ought to keep these facts in mind when reporting on drugs such as heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana because these drugs, although both illegal and dangerous, do not even come close to the damage caused by alcohol and tobacco — drugs that any adult can purchase in practically any grocery store.
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