It's not the one most likely to kill you, nor the one most likely to send you into a 43-year spiral of addiction and tooth loss. Instead, it's something entirely unexpected.

When participating in the wonderful world of narcotic use, it's helpful to ask yourself one question: What's the most dangerous drug I can take?

Whether the point of that personal inquiry is so you can avoid this drug, or seek it out, it's important you know the answer so you can imbibe accordingly.

However, it's not as simple a question as you'd think, and the world's most dangerous drug is not the one you'd expect. It's not the one most likely to kill you, nor the one most likely to send you into a 43-year spiral of addiction, tooth loss and auditioning for Intervention either.

It's something wrought with an inherent danger that defies straight-forward classification, and to figure out what it is, you have to broaden your definition of the word "dangerous" to include a multitude of factors that span from the user's individual risk to the drug's impact on society.

tl;dr — It's alcohol. Of course it's alcohol.

This is what a research group led by neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt attempted to do in 2010. Their now-infamous paper defined 16 parameters of harm, and these were then divied up based upon the specific drug's direct and indirect effects. For example, a direct effect would be overdose, while an indirect effect could be damage caused by becoming infected with HIV while using contaminated syringes. Each drug’s effect on others and society were also considered.

Other factors researchers used to define the danger of a drug included mortality likelihood, dependence, impairment of mental functioning, loss of tangible socioeconomic things (such as a house or a job), physical injury, and criminal activities. The economic cost to the country, as well as the international damage (in terms of political and societal destabilization, for example) were also taken into account.

So, with all these factors considered and the true definition of danger defined, which drug did the study find to be the world's most dangerous?

Well … Fireball. Or, Mango Burnett's  if you prefer.

Alcohol was by far considered to be the most dangerous drug. From personal to societal to economic impact, booze proved to be way more dangerous than its more illegal competitors; even heroin and crack can't touch alcohol when it comes to personal and societal devastation.

The direct dangers of alcohol come in the form of a veritable shitstorm of disease; from cardiovascular and neurological disorders to liver degeneration, excessive drinking is almost certain to fuck with your body irreparably. Indirectly, alcohol causes transportation accidents, decreases judement and inhibition which thus ups the likelihood of becoming infected by a range of pathogens, and takes out a huge chunk of  a nation’s economy as individuals pay for treatment and healthcare of those suffering from alcohol-related problems with their own tax dollars.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 5.9 percent of all annual deaths are caused by alcohol; that's 3.3 million deaths every year. Disturbingly,  this equates to about one person every 10 seconds.

Of course, heroin and crack are still pretty perilous drugs, but they're much more dangerous on a personal level than for society or the economy.

Ecstasy and LSD were considered among the least harmful, while tobacco was ranked 6th, just after cocaine.

Maddeningly, weed was ranked as the 8th most dangerous drug, but not for reasons of individual risk. Instead, weed is dangerous because of how heavily politicized it is.

“Drugs policy is deliberately used as a political tool. The illegalizing of cannabis, for example, was driven by pressure from Egypt which insisted the UN add cannabis to the anti-drug conventions in order for its members to get access to military bases there," said Nutt to IFLScience.

Weed is very illegal in most U.S. states despite the bounty of scientific evidence proving that it's nowhere near as dangerous as alcohol. But despite its heath safety, it's currently costing up to $20 billion per year to enforce its illegality.

We all know from examples set forth by Colorado and Washington that legalizing weed would have the dual benefit of earning the government billions in tax revenue, while simultaneously shrinking the black market. But until we do that, illegal weed continues to fund the black market and associated crime, which makes it much more dangerous as an illegal substance than it would be as a legal one.

IFLScience summed up this disconnect by saying, "Governments often take a hard line on drugs in order to seem tough and, ultimately, more electable. It’s this attitude, exacerbated by the media, that encourages people to take an absolutist view: All drugs are extremely dangerous, and they must be stamped out at whatever cost. The scientific research, however, shows that not all drugs are created equal, and it’s the most widely available, easy to access drug of all that’s by far the most dangerous, by any measure.

If the danger of drugs is seen as a personal danger most of all, then drug addiction problems should be treated more as a health issue, not as a policing issue."

Well, good thing the people in power like Michael Botticelli, the U.S.'s new drug czar, agree. Botticelli's progressive belief that drug use should be addressed with therapy, not prison time, directly stems from his experience with alcoholism himself. Hopefully, with that kind of belief circulating, the problem of drug addiction can finally be addressed in a way the infamously ineffective war on drugs could never solve.

All this to say that the most dangerous drug on earth is one you're probably the most familiar with. We don't know if that inflates your weird sense of street cred or makes you want to run screaming at the sight of a margarita, but do with this knowledge what you will. Be safe out there, and when in doubt, do LSD instead of beer.