Absinthe may not be as bad for you as you once thought, but as a new study points out, the biggest threats are sometimes the least exciting ones - like that wine right in front of you. British researchers recently found that alcohol is ultimately more harmful to individuals and society than heroin, crack, crystal meth, and other substances. But while we can accept that booze has caused its share of problems, we thought it was worth investigating a few more toxic ways to imbibe. You know, the kind that will kill you today, not twenty years from now. Like these:
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1. Heroin Cough Syrup
Back in the day, "heroin" was a word coined by Bayer Pharmaceutical and nasal decongestants did much, much more than suppress your coughs. Thought to be a miracle cure when it came on the market at the turn of the twentieth century, opiates were sold as a common treatment for asthma, pneumonia, and dysentery. They worked, as it turned out, but high rates of addiction and long-term side effects led to the drug's eventual ban in 1924 - not that we'll try to stop you from scoring some at the pharmacist.
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2. Unpasteurized Milk
It might be true that pasteurized milk gives you indigestion and rushes kids through puberty before they learn how to tie their shoes, but the alternative is much worse: Before the pasteurization process was discovered during the industrial revolution, milk was a harbor for all sorts of diseases from salmonella to tuberculosis. Lactose intolerance - or typhoid?
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If you ever decide to get into the home-distillation racket, which is becoming ever more popular these days, try to avoid mistakenly making methanol (rather than ethanol), a toxic byproduct of the fermentation process. "Wood alcohol," as it's called, can lead to blindness and death. Which is a lot to go through for a little moonshine.
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4. Purple Drank
If you're familiar with Rich Boy's "Throw Some D's," you might already know about the "S-Y-R-U-P" craze that's taken hold in the Southern hip-hop community. But just in case: They're talking about purple drank, a mixture of prescription-strength codeine and promethazine cough syrup flavored with something sweet, like Sprite or Jolly Ranchers. While that may sound intriguing, the drank-related deaths of DJ Screw and Pimp C will hopefully scare the kids into realizing that it is not, in fact, as cool as it sounds.
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5. Four Loko
Already dubbed "badness in a can" by Harvard University Health Services, Four Loko is a so-called "alcopop" containing up to 12.5 percent alcohol, the equivalent of five cups of coffee, and some nasty fruit-flavored soda. The potent combo has led to several hospitalizations, but we doubt that'll deter college kids from buying it. After all, who are you going to believe, the administration, or the guys who get you drunk during finals week?
Photo credit: Wikimedia
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