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20% of US Adults Harmed by Someone Else's Drinking

And that's just over the past year
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2019 5:17 PM CDT
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Stock photo   (Getty Images / OlegEvseev)

(Newser) – We all know consuming alcohol can be bad for you; a new study finds it can also be bad for those around you. In the US, about 20% of adults say they were harmed at least once in the past year due to someone else's drinking, CNN reports. The study asked about 10 different types of harm: harassment; feeling threatened or afraid; ruined belongings; vandalized property; being pushed, hit or assaulted; being physically harmed; traffic accidents; being a passenger in a vehicle with a drunk driver; family or marital problems; and financial trouble. And the true number of those experiencing secondhand harm due to alcohol is likely higher, a study author says: The study "is only limited to a snapshot in time of about a year. So probably more people have actually been harmed by someone else's drinking at other times in their life." Per a press release, study authors believe policymakers should address this issue in the same way they address the harms of secondhand smoke.

Harassment was the most prevalent type of harm reported. Beyond that, for women—21% of whom reported experiencing at least one type of harm in the prior year—family or marital problems and financial problems came in next; women were more likely than men to report harm due to the behavior of a spouse, partner, or family member. Men, conversely, were more likely than women to report harm due to a stranger's behavior. After harassment, "for men, the driving-related harms were the most common, followed by property damage and vandalism," the study author says. The study found that those under age 25 were more likely than older adults to have experienced harm due to someone else's drinking, and a professor not involved with the study found that interesting: "People who are 18 to 25, they are showing the highest rates of alcoholism," she tells CNN. "This study ... shows how the secondhand effect of alcohol is also affecting that same age group." (Read more alcohol is bad for you stories.)

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