Alcohol’s Harm to Others

The ground-breaking ‘Alcohol’s Harm to Others’ study examines how individual acts of alcohol misuse ripple through families, workplaces and communities, by measuring their impact on people other than the drinker.

This ongoing world-first study is being undertaken by CAPR with the support of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE). The ‘Alcohol’s Harm to Others’ study is pivotal to understanding the full extent of alcohol-related harms in Australia, by measuring ‘third-party’ harms from alcohol that have not previously been explored in a national context.

The study commenced in 2008 with a nationally representative population survey and analysis of existing alcohol data-sets to assess the extent of alcohol harms in Australia. First results from this research were released in 2010. The research has since been taken up by the World Health Organization (WHO), and is included in its Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2011.

The implications of this work are so significant that WHO is now working with CAPR to use the Australian study as a model for international work across the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe. In this international work, CAPR has taken a leadership role in guiding the research design and implementation.

Initial findings

A key area of this research focuses on the largely hidden personal and financial costs of alcohol on people other than the drinker. The initial study showed that each year:

  • more than 70,000 Australians are the victims of alcohol-related assaults and, of those, 24,000 experienced the assault as domestic violence
  • almost 20,000 children across Australia are victims of substantiated alcohol-related child abuse
  • the deaths of 367 people and the hospitalisation of a further 14,000 people can be attributed to someone else’s drinking


‘The Range and Magnitude of Alcohol’s Harm to Others’ Summary and Report

The Range and Magnitude of Alcohol’s Harm to Others Technical Report: Study design, data collection procedures and measurement 2009

The authors of The Range and Magnitude of Alcohol’s Harm to Others respond to an Access Economics critique

Additional Alcohol’s harm to others resources

International Harm to Others Master Research Protocol

Implications of this work

CAPR’s work on Alcohol’s harm to others is significant because it has the potential to transform the way policy makers think about solutions to address alcohol-related harms.

Traditionally, the harms from alcohol have been perceived as being the problem of the individual drinker. However, this work clearly demonstrates the impacts of an individual’s drinking on friends, family, work colleagues and even strangers.

This work also reveals the immense economic costs that result from alcohol-related harms in Australia. These costs demonstrate that everyone pays for the misuse of alcohol, not just the drinker.

This paradigm shift challenges current thinking about the direction of alcohol policy in Australia and internationally. It demonstrates the wide-reaching impact alcohol has on individuals, community and industry, and shows that the range and magnitude of alcohol’s harms are far greater than ever imagined.

Future work

CAPR is developing our understanding of alcohol’s harm to others in Australia by further examining the impacts of alcohol use on children and families, exploring the persistence of alcohol-related harms, and whether people affected are seeking help.

For the ‘Alcohol’s Harm to Others’ study to be most effective in informing evidence-based alcohol policy development, we need to gain an understanding of alcohol harms in Australia over time. With support from donors and partners CAPR will be able to continue this important work. Visit the FARE website to make your secure online donation.