Alcohol harms one in three non-drinkers

Sadly, alcohol is not a benign activity.

The 2014 ‘Alcohol’s Harm to Others’ report has shed some light on heavy drinking culture damage:

  • Almost one-in-three people have been harmed by someone else’s drinking
  • Consequences include “family and financial problems, assault, having property vandalised and being a passenger with a drunk driver”
  • One in six women experienced family problems
  • One in nine men reported assaults
  • Children were badly affected, with one in 10 parents and guardians saying that “their children experienced or witnessed serious violence in the home, hurt, verbal and physical abuse, or left in unsafe situations in the past 12 months because of someone else’s drinking”

The report confirmed that little progress has been made in the last two decades in implementing effective policies to reduce alcohol-related harm.

Alcohol is a main driver of crime

Mark Kleiman is Professor of Public Policy at the UCLA School of Public Affairs. He knows and states clearly the influence our rampant alcohol indulgence has on crime. He writes and speaks so well that I will just quote his intelligent and confronting words on this issue (from an article in The Washington Post):

“All illegal drugs combined are to alcohol as the Mediterranean is to the Pacific. We have our whole navy in the Mediterranean. And that’s true both of the drug policy machinery and those who are fighting the drug war, and of the drug reform movement, which, it seems to me, neglects the problem with the one drug we’ve legalized. Any sentence about drug policy that doesn’t end with “raise alcohol taxes” is an incoherent sentence” 

“Half the people in prison were drinking when they did whatever they did… Of the class of people who go to prison, a lot of them are drunk a lot of the time. So that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t have done it if they had not been drunk. It’s just that being drunk and committing burglary are both parts of their lifestyle. Still, alcohol shortens time horizons, and people with shorter time horizons are more criminally active because they’re less scared of the punishment. Most people who drive drunk are sensible enough to know when they’re sober that they shouldn’t be driving drunk. It’s only when they’re drunk that they forget they’re not supposed to drive drunk. We need to keep them from drinking, which is what the 24/7 program does. We could also require everyone to be carded. Maybe you still get carded, but I don’t. But imagine everyone got carded, and if I had a DUI, I had a driving license showing I wasn’t allowed to buy a drink. You’d make the alcohol industry regulate its own customers. And I think you’d cut down on crimes substantially. But if I say that, I’m a nanny state fanatic…”

“The spirits guys are not really important because they’re not the real market. The real problem is beer. The beer guys are powerful. It’s two thirds of the market. Not only do they have heavy campaign contributions to politicians, because they’re state regulated and thus have a stake in state politics, but customers don’t dislike their beer company, so if they get a political message from the beer company, they’ll respond. Contrast that with tobacco, with a smaller number of lower status users who hate their providers. The cigarette companies have absolutely no luck mobilizing smokers. Smokers hate tobacco companies. It’s easy to say it’s just a tax on responsible drinking until you do the math. It would cost a typical beer drinker $36 a year. The man who’d get hit is the 10 beer a day drinker, and he’s the guy we want to hit. Taxation is just about the perfect way to control alcohol use. It’s not complete, because you need controls for the real problem drinkers. But if we tripled the alcohol tax it would reduce homicide by 6%”


Written by Jason Shon Bennett from ® & ©. 


  1. The 2014 ‘Alcohol’s Harm to Others’ report by the Irish HSE was reported by the Irish Examiner on Tuesday, March 25, 2014.
  2. Full article as posted by Dylan Matthews on March 28, 2013 here:

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