Harm due to other's drinking.
A new report has highlighted the wider social harm alcohol consumption causes.
The alcohol consumption of individuals affecting others is a widely accepted reality - around 200,000 children are living with an alcohol dependent parent or carer in England alone. However, the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs has now come to estimate that 53 million adults in the US experienced harm because of someone else’s drinking in the last 12 months.
What exactly is harm in this case? It includes harassment, vandalism, physical aggression, financial or family problems, and/or harms related to driving.
It's a sobering thought that 21 per cent of women and 23 per cent of men experienced harm due to someone else's drinking, harm that was completely out of their control. Those aged below 25 years old also had a higher likelihood of experiencing said harm, which goes to show how vulnerable children can be in households where there is alcohol misuse.
Researchers analyzed data from two telephone surveys conducted in 2015—the National Alcohol's Harm to Others Survey and the National Alcohol Survey which studied data from 8,750 respondents.
Almost half of men and women who themselves were heavy drinkers (defined as drinking five or more drinks at a time for men or four or more drinks for women at least monthly) said they had been harmed by someone else’s drinking, the study stated.
It goes to show that drinking is costly - not just in the cost of hangover's on society reported to be £1.4billion in the UK - but on the health and wellbeing of those who elect to drink and those who do not.
In the accompanying commentary, Timothy Naimi, M.D., M.P.H., of the Boston Medical Center, writes "[T]he freedom to drink alcohol must be counter-balanced by the freedom from being afflicted by others' drinking in ways manifested by homicide, alcohol-related sexual assault, car crashes, domestic abuse, lost household wages, and child neglect."
More information: Madhabika B. Nayak et al, Alcohol's Secondhand Harms in the United States: New Data on Prevalence and Risk Factors, Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (2019). DOI: 10.15288/jsad.2019.80.273
Sven Andréasson. Policies to Reduce the Secondhand Harms of Alcohol: A Commentary on Nayak et al. (2019), Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (2019). DOI: 10.15288/jsad.2019.80.282
Timothy Naimi. Toward Firsthand Knowledge of the Secondhand Effects of Alcohol: A Commentary on Nayak et al. (2019), Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (2019). DOI: 10.15288/jsad.2019.80.284