Daily Archives: 08/09/2015

Alcohol’s harm to others

Alcohol Policy UK recently shared this information:

A new report released by the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) highlights the extent of alcohol harms experienced as a result of other people’s drinking, which costs the UK economy more than £15bn each year.

IAS harm to others report

Download Alcohol’s harm to others’ [pdf] or see a video here.

Produced by the Institute of Alcohol Studies with the University of Sheffield School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), the report combines a review of the evidence and new survey data.

Over 2,000 adults from the North West of England and Scotland were asked about the harms experienced from others’ alcohol consumption which included being harassed or insulted on the street, feeling unsafe in public, being kept awake at night and being sexually harassed.

The main findings of the report show that:

  • 51.4% of people in Scotland and 78.7% of people in North West England had experienced harm from another person’s drinking. Most of these people reported multiple types of harm
  • There is a link between age and rates of harm, with younger age groups (16-24 and 25-34 year-olds) reporting greater rates of harm than older age groups
  • One in five adults have been harassed or insulted on the street by someone who has been drinking (20% Scotland; 23% North West England)
  • 19% of people in Scotland and 36% of people in North West England had felt unsafe or threatened in public
  • 30% of people in Scotland and almost half of those in North West England (49%) reported being kept awake at night because of drunken noise
  • 15% of people in North West England report that someone who had been drinking gave them unwanted sexual attention or behaved in a sexually inappropriate way towards them.

The report also sets out key evidence based policies is are needed in combination to significantly impact on harm. These include brief interventions (or ‘IBA’), controlling the density and opening times of licensed premises, raising the price of the cheapest alcohol (through taxation and minimum pricing) and lowering the legal drink-drive limit and introducing random roadside breath testing.

Katherine Brown, Director of the IAS said:

“Alcohol harm is everybody’s business – as taxpayers we are all paying the price. We hope this government will look to the evidence of what works and take action, both to ease the heavy financial burden on our health, social care and police services, and to make our communities safer.”

A powerful message?

In 2009 then Chief Medical Officer Liam Donaldson called for minimum pricing by highlighting alcohol’s harms to others, which he termed ‘passive drinking’. Whilst perceptions of alcohol-related and crime and disorder and violent crime rates have been falling, certainly the impact of alcohol’s harm to others is no small fry. Indeed it is alcohol’s harm to others that earns it the title of most harmful drug in the well known 2010 drug rankings by harm.

This report was picked up and responded to by the Royal College of GP’s on HealthCanal.com  who said that: Alcohol abuse has devastating ‘domino effect’, says RCGP in response to report from the Institute of Alcohol Studies

“Everyday in our surgeries, GPs are dealing with the fallout of alcohol abuse in some of our patients’ lives, and this report really hammers home the devastating ‘domino effect’ on families and the wider community.