People Who Don't Drink May Still Suffer Harms from Alcohol

The consumption of alcohol carries a risk of adverse health and social consequences related to its intoxicating, toxic and dependence-producing properties (WHO).

When assessing alcohol-related harm estimates primarily focus on the individual who is consuming alcohol.

A recent study conducted by researchers from the Institute for Therapy Research in Bayern has investigated the most severe harms that alcohol use may cause to people in Germany other than the drinker.

Dr Ludwig Kraus, the corresponding author, described the research: "This study estimates some of the most severe harms that alcohol use may cause to other people than the drinker, namely foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), road traffic fatalities caused by drunk drivers, and deaths resulting from alcohol-attributable interpersonal violence."

Results found that:

  • Alcohol was responsible for 1,214 (45.1%) third-party road traffic deaths in 2014
  • In 2014 alcohol was implicated in 2,930 incidents of FAS and 12,650 cases of FASD
  •  In 2014, 368 people died from injuries sustained as a result of interpersonal violence, and 55 of these deaths were estimated to be alcohol-attributable 

The study highlights the extensive potential damage that harmful alcohol consumption can have on a number of third parties.

Dr Ludwig Kraus comments: "Although measures such as pricing policies or limiting the marketing of alcoholic beverages are unpopular, targeted measures addressing particular populations at risk, such as women of childbearing age or road users, may help to reduce harms to others as well as harms to the drinker."

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