Public Health England have published a report on “The range and magnitude of alcohol’s harm to others”. The report demonstrates the effect of alcohol to people other than the drinker, with input from the alcohol expert panel forum of the Five Nations Health Improvement Network – England, Scotland, Wales, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland. The report draws on data first reported in 2014.
The first dedicated Irish survey on Alcohol’s Harm to Others (and the most up to date Irish data available) is presented in “The Untold Story: Harms Experienced in the Irish Population due to Others’ Drinking” (A Hope, J Barry, S Byrne), published in 2018. The report measures some of alcohol’s harm to others in modern Ireland. It can be found on the HSE’s website www.askaboutalcohol.ie.
One of the authors of The Untold Story (2018) report, Dr Ann Hope, notes that:
“Alcohol’s harm from other people’s drinking can affect a wide range of relationships in a person’s life – family and friends, children, work colleagues as well as strangers. Given that 3 in 5 people reported a known heavy drinker in their life, this study suggests the risk of harm from others’ drinking is widespread in Irish society, with some of it hidden. This can mean that partners and children can feel unsafe in their own homes and fear for personal safety due to strangers’ drinking especially in public spaces can undermine a sense of community well-being and can be felt by both drinkers and non-drinker alike.”
Key Findings from the 2018 report ‘The Untold Story’
- One in every two people (51%) reported experiencing harm due to strangers’ drinking in the past 12 months.
- Two in every five people (44%) reported experiencing negative consequences due to the drinking of people they know.
- Three in every five people (61%) reported having a known heavy drinker in their life.
- One in seven workers (14%) reported work-related problems due to co-workers’ drinking.
- One in six carers (16%) reported that children, for whom they had parental responsibility, experienced harm because of someone else’s drinking.
The total estimated cost of Alcohol’s Harm to Others as assessed in this survey was €872.75 million. Both reports make very clear that preventing and reducing harm to others from drinkers is an urgent public health goal - equally as important as preventing and reducing harm to the drinker due to their own drinking.
For those impacted by another person’s drinking, help can be found through:
• HSE Drug and Alcohol Helpline 1800 459 459 Mon- Fri. 9.30-5.30pm
• Al-Anon Information Service. Phone: (01) 878 3624
Source: HSE Alcohol Programme, 12/06/19