Your Drinking Is Probably Having a Negative Effect on Other People

At least one in five American adults have come in harm's way because of another person's drinking

Alcohol harms
About 25 percent of American adults have been negatively affected by someone else's drinking. (Getty)
Getty Images/EyeEm

Just like it’s harmful cousin, secondhand smoking, secondhand drinking is hurting an awful lot of people.

At least one in five American adults have come in harm’s way because of another person’s drinking, CNN reported. The finding is based on a study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, that found about 53 million people in 2015 said they had at least one dangerous experience due to someone else’s alcohol use — anything from damage to their property to sustaining an injury.

“One thing to think about with the one-in-five number is that it is only limited to a snapshot in time of about a year,” Katherine Karriker-Jaffe, an author of the study and senior researcher at the Public Health Institute, told CNN. “So probably more people have actually been harmed by someone else’s drinking at other times in their life. So it might be an underestimate of the negative impacts of alcohol on people other than the drinker.”

Nearly 9,000 adults — children were not involved in the study — responded to surveys for the study that asked if they’d experienced any of 10 possible “harms” over the past year due to someone else’s drinking, like feeling threatened or afraid, being pushed, hit or assaulted, being a passenger in a vehicle with a drunk driver or having family or marital problems, CNN reported.

At least 22 percent of women and 23 percent of men said they experienced at least one of those drunken events, the most common of which was harassment.

Outside of harassment,” for men, the driving-related harms were the most common,” Karriker-Jaffe said, “followed by property damage and vandalism.”

Men were also more likely to report harm from a stranger than women, who more often had to deal with it from a spouse or family member.

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