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What is the worst drug that someone can use? That sounds like it could be the proverbial “million dollar question.” So what is it?

In the 1930s and 40s, it was the Demon Weed or marijuana. Remember Reefer Madness?

In the late 1960s it was heroin. Remember? Vietnam vets coming home. The news was full of stories of veterans returning to civilian life but only now “hooked” on heroin. We just knew that heroin was the worst drug ever.

Then in the early 1970s, it was LSD. You know, acid. The media portrayed a whole psychedelic picture of long haired, peace loving but not so hygienic hippies rocking out to the Grateful Dead and wearing tie dye clothing in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco. LSD certainly was the demon drug that we all feared.

Along came the 1980s and cocaine. We were inundated with stories of people smoking crack (smokable form of cocaine) on the street corner, school children having access to the drug, and Richard Pryor running down the street on fire after his free base cocaine exploded all over him. Cocaine was definitely the demon drug of the century.

In the late 1990s and well into the new century we were faced with a “new” drug called methamphetamine. More powerful than most anything we’d known and so addictive, our collective attention was caught and held for quite some time. We learned new words like “tweaker” and “meth.” It seemed like everyone was using this newest scourge. This was the worst ever.

Next, opiate based painkilling drugs were upon us. We heard about mothers, teens and executives using drugs like Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, and Methadone. We heard about them getting addicted and we heard about some of them dying. How can a little pill do so much damage? Seems like meth has gone away and we’re now stuck with this prescription drug problem.

Finally, in the last couple of years we hear about teenagers smoking heroin. What? I thought that went away 35 years ago! Everyone knows that you have to use a needle with heroin, right? Then we heard about heroin smokers graduating to injecting or “shooting” it into their bodies. Seems like a nightmare revisted. So maybe heroin is the worst drug.

So what is the worst drug? In reality, all drugs of abuse hold their own specific dangers. That includes heroin, LSD, cocaine, prescription drugs, alcohol, marijuana, and more. But as a culture, we tend to want to focus on one at a time. We then demonize that drug and then we forget about everything else.

For example, was heroin still being used in the ’80s and ’90s? You bet and it was used a lot by a lot of people. Before Meth was called Meth, it was called Crank and it was used prolifically in Nevada in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. But, like target practice we seem to gravitate toward picking off one at a time. When that’s done, we go to the next.

In reality, we need to focus on everything and be aware of everything. Right now we are paying a lot of attention to heroin but meth is still being used by many. We need to gear enforcement, prevention, education, and treatment efforts to all of these things. And there’s a reason why.

Here it is. It’s the answer to the question, “What’s the worst drug?” The answer to that million dollar question is this: The most dangerous or worst drug is the one you (or someone you care about) is using right now. That could be heroin or marijuana or alcohol or anything else on the list. That’s the important point. Sure, we still need to do campaigns and raise awareness but let’s not forget the big picture.