Effects of 'secondhand drinking' hurt 53 million Americans

Secondhand harms of drinking affect 1 in 5 adults study says	 	 	 			Getty Images

Secondhand harms of drinking affect 1 in 5 adults study says Getty Images

And the true number of those experiencing secondhand harm due to alcohol is likely higher, a study author says: The study "is only limited to a snapshot in time of about a year".

The study discovered that women were more likely to report financial and family issues due to drunken family members, typically men. The distribution showed that 21 percent of the women respondents and 23 percent of the men surveyed, at least one of the points in the queried twelve months has applied. Subjects were asked whether they experienced any of the 10 types of harms - caused by someone who had been drinking alcohol - in a 12-month period.

"One of the key take homes from this study is that harms due to other people's drinking are extremely prevalent", said coauthor Katherine Karriker-Jaffe, a senior scientist at the Alcohol Research Group at the Public Health Institute in Oakland, California.

The researchers used data from two nationally representative surveys: the 2015 National Alcohol's Harm to Others Survey, which contained information on 2,830 adults, and the 2015 National Alcohol Survey, which contained data on 7,071 adults.

"So it might be an underestimate of the negative impacts of alcohol on people other than the drinker", she said. 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.

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The study findings were "fascinating" for Aesoon Park, an associate professor of psychology at Syracuse University in NY, who has conducted research on alcohol use and misuse but was not involved in the new study. "Probably, in fact, more people were harmed by the Drinking of others in your life".

"These harms are missed if we only focus on the problems that heavy drinkers experience as a result of their own alcohol use", Karriker-Jaffe, who works at the institute's Alcohol Research Group, said Gizmodo via email.

"There is now a growing literature on the effects of national alcohol policies to reduce not only consumption but also some of the secondhand harms from alcohol, notably the effects of price policies on all forms of violence - assaults, sexual violence, partner violence, and violence toward children", Andréasson writes. "So it highlights a gender inequality of the secondhand effect of alcohol", Park said.

What is meant as secondhand drinking is people affected by the actions of those drinking alcoholic beverages.

Dr. Timothy Naimi, a physician and alcohol epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center in MA, wrote an editorial published alongside the study Monday. That would work out to 53 million American adults experiencing at least one secondhand harm from alcohol each year, the researchers reported.

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