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J Subst Use. 2017;22(4):434-441. doi: 10.1080/14659891.2016.1232761. Epub 2016 Nov 16.

Distress and alcohol-related harms from intimates, friends, and strangers.

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


Alcohol's harms to others (AHTO) has gained increased research and policy attention, yet little information is available on different social relationships involved in such harms or consequences of harms perpetrated by various types of drinkers. Using data from the 2014-15 U.S. National Alcohol Survey (N=5,922), we present analyses comparing frequency and impacts of eight past-year harms from other drinkers. In this sample (53% female; 66% White/Caucasian, 13% Black/African American, and 15% other race; 15% Hispanic/Latino of any race; mean age=47 years), 19% reported at least one harm in the prior 12 months, 8% reported more than one harm, 4.9% reported a family perpetrator, 3.5% a spouse perpetrator, 6.1% a friend perpetrator, and 8.1% a stranger perpetrator. Controlling for basic demographics, the number of harms in the past year and harms perpetrated by known others (but not strangers) were significantly associated with recent distress. When comparing specific harms, financial problems due to a family member's or a spouse/partner's drinking each were associated with significantly greater distress, as were feeling threatened or afraid of family members, spouses/partners or friends who had been drinking. These new data shed light on possible intervention points to reduce negative impacts of AHTO in the U.S.


alcohol’s harms to others; family; mental health; population survey; social relationships

Conflict of interest statement

Statement of Interest: Funding was provided by the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (grants P50AA005595, W. Kerr, PI and R01AA022791, T. Greenfield and K. Karriker-Jaffe, Multiple PIs). Opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the sponsoring institutions. Authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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