More US citizens report alcohol’s secondhand harms

July 3, 2019

Smoking’s secondhand effects are better known than alcohol’s – a new US study suggests the latter’s effects are much more dangerous and varied. Women were likely to be harmed by a spouse, partner or family member who is inebriated while men were more likely to be harmed by a drunken stranger.

Katherine Karriker-Jaffe at the Alcohol Research Group at the Public Health Institute in Oakland, California, said the study highlights a serious problem that needs attention, as the study was conducted over a short time and without other external influences.

Karriker-Jaffe and colleagues used survey data from 2015’s National Alcohol’s Harm to Others (2,830 adults) and 2015’s National Alcohol Survey (7,071 adults), with a focus on the participants who reported specific harms from a drinker  in the past year – assault, harassment, threats and/or personal/public property damage.

Overall, 21% of women and 23% of men were found to have had experienced at least one type of harm related to someone else’s drinking. The most common type of harm was harassment and threats, reported by 16% of men and women. These harms were apparent in people younger than 25, black, drank heavily themselves, or were separated/divorced/widowed.

Meanwhile, Dr. Antoine Douaihy, a Professor at the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine said in the US, the effects of alcohol mostly concerns the person drinking, and not on collateral damage – alcohol remains a very serious problem that needs to be tackled aggressively.

Karriker-Jaffe also hopes for changes in the availability of alcohol, such as earlier closing times for bars and liquor stores.

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