This study examined a range of indicators of alcohol’s harm to others (AHTO) among
U.S. adults and assessed sociodemographic and alcohol-related risk factors for AHTO.
The data came from 8,750 adult men and women in two parallel 2015 U.S. national surveys
conducted in English and Spanish. Both surveys used computer-assisted telephone interviews
and two-stage, stratified, list-assisted, random samples of adults ages 18 and older.
One in five adults experienced at least one of ten 12-month harms because of someone
else’s drinking. The prevalence of specific harm types and characteristics differed
by gender. Women were more likely to report harm due to drinking by a spouse/partner
or family member, whereas men were more likely to report harm due to a stranger’s
drinking. Being female also predicted family/financial harms. Younger age increased
risk for all AHTO types, except physical aggression. Being of Black/other ethnicity,
being separated/widowed/divorced, and having a college education without a degree
each predicted physical aggression harm. The harmed individual’s own heavy drinking
and having a heavy drinker in the household increased risk for all AHTO types. The
risk for physical aggression due to someone else’s drinking was particularly elevated
for heavy drinking women. Secondhand effects of alcohol in the United States are substantial
and affected by sociodemographics, the harmed individual’s own drinking, and the presence
of a heavy drinker in the household. Broad-based and targeted public health measures
that consider AHTO risk factors are needed to reduce alcohol’s secondhand harms.