Document Type



Substance abuse, Social topics, Family studies, Social work.

Publication Details

Some of the research in this paper is published in

The untold story: Harms experienced in the Irish population due to others’ drinking by Ann Hope, Joe Barry and Sean Byrne published by the Health Service Executive of Ireland in 2018



Introduction: This paper examines the negative consequences of having a known drinker in one’s life. Method: The first dedicated national survey on alcohol’s harm to others (AH20) in Ireland was undertaken in 2015. Data was gathered by a cross sectional probability sample of 2,005 adults (18+yrs). Using a 12 month time-frame, respondents were asked about adverse effects they experienced due to known drinkers. Results: Overall, two in five people experiencing harm from known drinkers. Intangible harm was more common (38%) than tangible harm (24%). Stress/anxiety was the most common harm. The youngest age group was most at risk of tangible harm, those under 60 were most at risk of intangible harm. Closeness of the relationship to known heavy drinkers increased the risk of harm, with partners and household members of heavy drinkers most at risk. Respondents who were risky drinkers were more likely to report harm from known drinkers. Respondents with a close relationship to heavy drinkers and those with both a close and an extended relationship to heavy drinkers reported lower life satisfaction than those who did not know heavy drinkers. Conclusion: Having a known drinker in one’s life can cast a shadow on an individual’s health and well-being and the closer the proximity relationship to known heavy drinkers the greater the shadow. To reduce AH20, a broad alcohol policy framework is needed, that incorporates effective measures to reduce harm across the population and improve relevant services in local communities. The implementation of the recently passed Public Health Alcohol Act can help identify and implement the necessary actions to reduce alcohol-related harm in Ireland.



Health Services Executive

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.