Reducing harm caused by alcohol


Majority of Brits harmed by other people's drinking

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.

Alcohol's Harm to Others examines the extent to which consuming alcohol can impact on people other than the drinker. 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.

The report combines a review of evidence on alcohol's harm to others and data from two surveys in which over 2,000 adults were asked about the harms experienced by other people's alcohol consumption. The Scottish data came from Alcohol Focus Scotland's research, Unrecognised and Under-reported published in 2013.

View the video which outlines the main findings:

  • 51% of people in Scotland and 78% of people in North West England had experienced harm from another person's drinking. Most of these people reported multiple types of harm.
  • Younger age groups report 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% in Scotland, 23% in NW England).
  • 19% of people in Scotland and 36% of people in NW England had felt unsafe or threatened in public.
  • 30% of people in Scotland and almost half of those in NW England reported being kept awake at night because of drunken noise.

The report estimates that alcohol's harm to others costs the UK economy more than £15bn each year. 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 pricing

Katherine Brown, Director of the Insitute of Alcohol Studies 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 to ease the heavy financial burden on our health, social care and police services, and to make our communities safer."

The report was published by the Institute of Alcohol Studies in partnership with the University of Sheffield School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR).