Don’t go out and get bombed on New Year’s Eve.

The glorification of excess alcohol consumption must come to an end. Alcohol is the worst drug.

It is more dangerous than many illegal drugs — worse than heroin, cocaine (including crack), ecstasy and marijuana. This was the conclusion of a study in the prestigious British medical journal Lancet a little more than a year ago.

The study shows that alcohol scored highest because it is so widely used and has such devastating consequences not only for drinkers but for those around them. When abused, alcohol can destroy nearly all organ systems. Alcohol leads to higher death rates than illegal drugs. Alcohol is a factor in a greater percentage of crimes.

And the economic costs are greater when you count the tab for health care, human services and law enforcement. Alcohol wins, hands down. Yet it would be unrealistic and mistaken to try to prohibit alcohol sales. That was unsuccessfully tried during Prohibition. Instead, we can do the following:

* Stop pretending that alcohol is an acceptable drug.

* Provide better information to the public on the relative harms of alcohol and other drugs.

* Target problem drinkers by increasing penalties for repeat offenders.

* Raise the price of alcohol so it is less readily available.

Many people see New Year’s Eve as an excuse to drink an excessive amount. But that’s a poor — and potentially fatal — excuse. We need to watch what we drink on New Year’s Eve — and every day.

Judy Adrian and Carol Lobes are former co-directors of the Dane County (Wis.) Coalition to Reduce Alcohol Abuse. They wrote this for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues. This column was distributed by MCT Information Services.

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