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Keywords:

  • Alcohol;
  • externalities;
  • families;
  • friends;
  • harm to others;
  • social consequences;
  • surveys

ABSTRACT

Aims  This study aims to document the adverse effects of drinkers in Australia on people other than the drinker.

Design  Cross-sectional survey.

Setting  In a national survey of Australia, respondents described the harmful effects they experienced from drinkers in their households, family and friendship networks, as well as work-place and community settings.

Participants  A randomly selected sample of 2649 adult Australians.

Measurements  Problems experienced because of others' drinking were ascertained via computer-assisted telephone interviews. Respondent and drinker socio-demographic and drinking pattern data were recorded.

Findings  A total of 70% of respondents were affected by strangers' drinking and experienced nuisance, fear or abuse, and 30% reported that the drinking of someone close to them had negative effects, although only 11% were affected by such a person ‘a lot’. Women were more affected by someone they knew in the household or family, while men were more affected by strangers, friends and co-workers. Young adults were consistently the most negatively affected across the majority of types of harm.

Conclusions  Substantial proportions of Australians are affected by other people's drinking, including that of their families, friends, co-workers and strangers. These harms range in magnitude from noise and fear to physical abuse, sexual coercion and social isolation.