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October 1976

About Alcoholism - Alcoholism Information, Research and Treatment

. . . And Still Champion

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WASHINGTON, D.C.--The largest study ever made of drug abuse in this country shows that two widely available legal drugs-alcohol and the tranquilizer Valium--are responsible for the greatest amount of drug-related illness. But barbiturates and drugs derived from morphine, mostly heroin, are implicated in 45% of drug-related deaths in the country, the reports show.

This is the first time the government has collected in one study information on the ill effects of both legal and illegal drugs. The information comes from the $7,000,000 National Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) established jointly in 1972 by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Justice Department's Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The report covered in detail the period from April 1974 through April 1975.

Included are almost 200,000 cases of illness or deaths related to drug abuse that were reported to 2,300 emergency rooms, drug-crisis centers, hospitals, and medical examiners' offices in 23 metropolitan areas. They show that the big three of drug abuse, accounting for almost one-third of the problems, are alcohol, Valium, and heroin.

The study did not concentrate on alcohol use. Nonetheless, Dr. DuPont [Dr. Robert L. DuPont, director of NIDA] said, alcohol used in combination with other drugs--often Valium or Seconal--was involved most frequently in drug-abuse illnesses. "There's no question in my mind that in total social costs alcohol is well ahead of everything else," he said.

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