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Alcohol’s harm to others in Ireland

In Ireland, the burden of alcohol related harm is often experienced by those around the drinker, be they family member, friend, co-worker or innocent ‘bystander’. Alcohol’s harm to others (AH2O) undermines public safety and is experienced in every community. The negative effects from other people’s drinking are visible in the public domain and can range from the nuisance factor, feeling unsafe in public places to the violent attack by an intoxicated drinker. Physical assaults and driving a car while under the influence of alcohol can contribute to injuries, accidents, disabilities and death of innocent people. Although not often publically visible, alcohol’s harm to others within the family can have very serious consequences for the safety and well-being of family members, with children being the most vulnerable. The World Health Organisation (WHO), in its Global Strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, called for special attention to be given to reducing harm to people other than the drinker and to populations that are at particular risk (WHO 2010). This report examines alcohol’s harm to others in three Irish settings – the general population, in the workplace and children in families. The information is based on self-reported responses in the national drinking surveys of 2006 and 2010, funded by the Health Service Executive.