Alcohol use harms millions of Australians each year


​Recently released research from La Trobe University looked at a 2021 survey of 2,574 adults who were asked about the impacts of alcohol use by people they interacted with – friends, housemates, strangers, partners, family members and colleagues – in the previous 12 months.

Nearly half of respondents (48.1%) said they had experienced harm from another person's drinking, while 7.5% reported having been "harmed substantially."

This equates to almost 10 million adults a year harmed by others' alcohol use and more than 1.5 million experiencing serious harm.

The study from  university's Centre for Alcohol Policy Research,  highlighted the widespread harm caused by alcohol in Australia and the need for evidence-based policies to prevent it.

Dr Anne-Marie Laslett the co-author of the study said, "we know that alcohol is harmful to people's health, but it doesn't just negatively impact people who drink alcohol."

"It also affects people close to someone who uses alcohol – like family members, friends, work colleagues, and the broader community."

Serious harm was more likely to arise from the alcohol use of people they know rather than from strangers' drinking, but overall harm from others' alcohol use was experienced across society in a range of locations.

These types of harms can happen in any public or private places such as the home, in licensed premises and on the streets.

People negatively affected by the drinking of someone they knew reported harms ranging from being emotionally neglected or having the person fail to do something, to having a serious argument, being threatened, called names, insulted, pressured, or forced into sexual activity or otherwise physically hurt.

Other negative effects of the alcohol use of a person known to participants included having to spend time caring for the person or take on extra caring responsibilities for children or others.

Financial trouble, family problems, being put at risk in a car when the person was driving or having to leave the home to stay somewhere else were also reported.

This research highlights the fact that alcohol is harming far too many Australians. The negative effects can be far reaching and devastating which can result in fear, hurt, anxiety and anguish on partners, families, and communities. 

The research paper is published in the academic journal Addiction, titled Alcohol's harm to others in 2021: who bears the burden?

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