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A Healthier You

1 in 5 Americans harmed by someone else’s alcoholism


(UPI) – People who drink alcohol don’t only put themselves at risk, they’re also endangering family and friends.

A new study finds the effects of “secondhand” alcohol harms are widespread, with nearly 1 in 5 Americans — 53 million people — reporting having been harmed by someone else’s drinking during the past year.

Those harms include threats or harassment, damaged property, vandalism, physical aggression, financial problems, relationship issues and issues related to driving.

“Heavy drinkers should be aware of how they might be impacting the lives of people around them,” said study co-author Katherine Karriker-Jaffe, a senior scientist with the Alcohol Research Group at the Public Health Institute in Emeryville, Calif.

If people know more about the secondhand harms from alcohol, that knowledge “may change the norms about what’s considered acceptable,” she said. And that may affect public policies, such as proposals to allow bars to stay open later or to lower taxes on alcohol.

The study findings were published July 1 in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Sven Andreasson of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden noted that “alcohol generates health problems on a massive scale.”

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