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Drug Alcohol Rev. 2016 Jan;35(1):22-29. doi: 10.1111/dar.12324. Epub 2015 Sep 1.

Those harmed by others' drinking in the US population are more depressed and distressed.

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Public Health Institute, Alcohol Research Group, Emeryville, USA.



Harms from second-hand smoke were instrumental in enacting tobacco controls. Documenting negative impacts of harms from others' drinking (also called second-hand effects of drinking) is vital to increase political will for optimal alcohol policies. We assessed associations between harms from others' drinking and depression in a national sample of US adults.


Using the landline sample from the 2010 National Alcohol Survey (n = 5388), weighted logistic regression models adjusting for alcohol problems in family of origin, respondent drinking pattern (volume and heaviest drinking), poverty and other demographics were used to analyse associations between experiencing harms from others' drinking in the last 12 months with mild to moderate depression (8-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale; alpha = 0.92; using cut point ≥8) and current distress.


Past 12 month family/marital harms, financial troubles, assaults, and vandalised property attributed to others' drinking were each associated with higher depression scores (all P < 0.001). In a combined model, all harms other than assaults remained highly significant. Similar patterns were found for current distress, but with some specific differences because of measurement and analytic approaches chosen also evident.


Findings suggest recently experiencing particular harms from others' drinking significantly affects mental health (both depression and distress). This confirms in a US population results recently reported in Australasian samples.


Studies that quantify the extent to which heavy drinkers victimise others are important for alcohol policy. [Greenfield TK, Karriker-Jaffe KJ, Kerr WC, Ye Y, Kaplan LM. Those harmed by others' drinking in the US population are more depressed and distressed. Drug Alcohol Rev 2015;●●:●●-●●].


alcohol drinking; depression; drinking behaviour; harm to others; population survey

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