Alcohol causes significant harm to those other than the drinker: Study

Liquor, alcohol
Liquor shops in West Bengal located in red, orange and green zones reopened on May 4 | Representational Image/iStock

People who are in close proximity or connection with alcoholics can experience harm because of their drinking, according to a study led by an Indian-origin scientist.

According to the research, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, an estimated 53 million adults in the US experienced harm because of someone else’s drinking in the last 12 months.

Researchers led by Madhabika B Nayak of the Alcohol Research Group in the US analysed data of 8,750 adults who answered questions from two databases in 2015 — the National Alcohols Harm to Others Survey and the National Alcohol Survey.

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They found that some 21 per cent of women and 23 per cent of men experienced harm because of someone elses drinking.

These harms included threats or harassment, vandalism, physical aggression, harms related to driving, or financial or family problems, according to the study.

The specific types of harm experienced differed by gender. Women were more likely to report financial and family problems, whereas ruined property, vandalism, and physical aggression were more likely to be reported by men.

There is “considerable risk for women from heavy, often male, drinkers in the household and, for men, from drinkers outside their family,” the researchers said. Additional factors, including age and the persons own drinking, were also important.

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People below 25 had a higher risk of experiencing harm from someone else’s drinking. Further, almost half of men and women who themselves were heavy drinkers said they had been harmed by someone else’s drinking, the study stated.

Even people who drank but not heavily were at two to three times the risk of harassment, threats, and driving-related harm compared with abstainers. Heavy drinking was defined as drinking five or more drinks at a time for men or four or more drinks for women at least monthly.

“Control policies, such as alcohol pricing, taxation, reduced availability, and restricting advertising, may be the most effective ways to reduce not only alcohol consumption but also alcohols harm to persons other than the drinker,” Nayak said.