Background Internationally, there is growing recognition of the harms that an individual’s alcohol consumption can cause to those around them (i.e. alcohol’s harms to others). In the United Kingdom, whilst there is some evidence of alcohol’s harms to others, further understanding is required to inform policy and practice that aims to address and prevent the wide breathe of alcohol-related harms.
Objective To explore the nature, extent and frequency of alcohol’s harms to others in Wales.
Methods A cross-sectional telephone survey with 1 071 adults (aged 18+ years) resident in Wales. The survey exploring 18 categories of harm.
Findings 59.7% of adults had experienced at least one harm from someone else’s drinking in the last 12 months (equivalent to 1,460,151 adults). The most common harms experienced included feeling anxious at a social occasion (29.2%); being kept awake due to noise/disruption (29.0%); having a serious argument (20.3%); being let down (19.2%); feeling threatened (17.7%); and suffering emotional neglect (17.3%). Of those experiencing any harm in the last 12 months, 16.9% reported doing so on at least a weekly basis. Most often, those causing the harm were known to those experiencing the harm (20.3% were friends; 19.9% were family members outside the household; 19% were cohabiting partners). The risk of experiencing any harm in the past 12 months was higher in younger age groups. The risks of experiencing individual harms also varied by socio-demographic factors.
Conclusion and policy implications This study provides an initial overview of experience of alcohol’s harms to others amongst adults in Wales. Including alcohol’s harms to others in assessments of the burden of alcohol is crucial to understanding its broad impact, and ensuring that policies, regulations and interventions seek to prevent the harmful effects of alcohol to both the drinker and those who may be affected by their drinking.