13 July 2015: More than half of Scots and three-quarters of people from North West England are harmed by another person’s drinking, according to a new report released today. Produced by the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) with the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group, Alcohol’s Harm to Others examines the extent to which consuming alcohol can impact on people other than the drinker.
The report combines a review of the evidence on alcohol’s harm to others and data from two surveys in which over 2,000 adults were asked about the harms experienced from others’ alcohol consumption. These include being harassed or insulted on the street by someone who has been drinking, feeling unsafe in public, being kept awake at night and being sexually harassed.
Evidence suggests a range of policies that could help to reduce alcohol’s harm to others, including:
- Offering screening and brief advice to drinkers who are most at risk of causing harm to themselves and others
- Better regulating the density of alcohol outlets and restricting their trading times
- Raising the price of the cheapest alcohol (through taxation and minimum unit pricing)
- Lowering the legal drink-drive limit and introducing random roadside breath testing
Lead author Dr Lucy Gell from the School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield said:
“Our findings indicate that a large number of people in Scotland and North West England experience harm from other people’s drinking, and in many cases multiple harms. This is especially true of younger adults who were far more likely to report having experienced harm in the past 12 months compared with older people.
“We need to better record alcohol’s harm to others across the health and social services and provide support services for those experiencing harm from other people’s drinking.
“Our team are now working to provide evidence to national and local governments about which mix of policies could best help to reduce the social harms associated with alcohol use.”
Katherine Brown, Director of IAS said:
“This report is important because it shows that the harms caused by alcohol extend far beyond individual drinkers, often affecting many people through no choice of their own.
“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.”
Watch the video highlighting the main findings of the report.