What Are Second-Hand Harms of Drinking?

An addiction to alcohol doesn’t just affect the person with the addiction. In fact, about one-fifth of adults in the United States have experienced some form of harm due to someone else’s behavior while drinking. These behaviors are ripple effects from the addiction and are known as second-hand harms of drinking. According to a study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, this adds up to nearly 53 million adults experienced at least one harm in 2015 attributable to someone else’s drinking in the past year.

Abusive Behavior

One of the biggest second-hand harms of drinking is being at the receiving end of abusive behavior. Abusive behavior can range from anything from emotional and physical abuse to property damage. Researchers in a study by the Alcohol Research Group found that 21% of women and 23% of men experienced at least one of these types of harms in the past year – more than any other type of the second-hand harms of drinking.

Emotional and Physical Abuse

When people are extremely intoxicated, they act in ways that they normally wouldn’t while sober. This behavior can range from anywhere to being more courageous while inhibitions are lowered, to becoming more angry and abusive while in a blackout.

Emotional abuse can include feeling harassed or threatened by the person who has been drinking and even feeling afraid of them. If someone we love is addicted to alcohol, we might stay up very late at night worrying, afraid and scared. We might also feel afraid of how they may act when they return home, and living in this constant state of fear is a form of abuse.

In addition, people who are highly intoxicated may become physically abusive if they become angry. In the same study, women were more likely than men to report harm by a spouse, partner or family member who had been drinking, while men were more likely to report harm because of a stranger’s drinking.

Property Damage

Another form of abusive behavior can be property damage at the hands of an intoxicated person. This can include anything from a damaged car, punching holes in walls, vandalism or otherwise breaking something that does not belong to them. This type of behavior can be abusive if it is acted by someone out of anger or revenge while intoxicated.

Reckless Behavior

One of the many hallmarks of alcoholism is engaging in reckless behavior while intoxicated, which makes it another one of the second-hand harms of drinking. Reckless behavior can include causing financial issues, traffic accidents or engaging in criminal behavior that affects someone else.

Financial Issues

When people are highly intoxicated, their inhibitions are lowered which allows them to feel more free to spend money. They may engage in gambling, spend all their money on alcohol while on a bender, or even lose their job due to their alcoholism. These are considered some of the second-hand harms of drinking because it can directly affect loved ones such as a spouse, child or parent.

Traffic Accidents

The most deadly of all of these second-hand harms of drinking is traffic accidents caused by drinking. When people get behind the wheel while intoxicated, they are putting not only their passengers in danger but everyone else on the road. Studies show that this is most common among men and largely go unreported.

Criminal Behavior

Criminal behavior as one of the second-hand harms of drinking can come in many forms. This can include actually stealing someone else’s property, stealing money, vandalism, getting a DUI or other drinking-related charge, or being a nuisance in public while drunk. This type of second-hand harm while drinking is especially dangerous since it can leave life-long consequences. These can include a permanent criminal background which can affect job searches and living situations for the future. In addition, especially egregious criminal behavior can cause trauma or death for others or the person drinking.

About Cliffside Malibu

The same study found that younger adults were more likely to experience secondhand harms due to someone else’s drinking and that people aged 18 to 25 are showing the highest rates of alcoholism. This doesn’t limit the second-hand harms of drinking to just this age range; it can affect anybody at any time, even if you don’t personally know someone who has an alcohol use disorder.

If you or someone you love abuses alcohol and displays second-hand harms of drinking, it is imperative you seek help. Since no two addictions are the same, Cliffside Malibu offers an individualized treatment plan for each and every client. Treatment plans are created based on a client’s current stage of the Transtheoretical Model: Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, or Maintenance. This model helps ensure that all patients receive the best treatment path possible based on their own specific need. Moving our clients through this model to completion successfully is our goal each and every single day.

Cliffside Malibu’s policy is to ensure that all people who choose treatment with us receives the best care possible. We strive to provide a continuum of care including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment, and outpatient services. Our program includes not only evidence-based behavioral therapy but family therapy and holistic therapy, as well. Whether an individual is suffering from substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction, our programs are designed and structured to be a supportive environment in order to maintain sobriety.

In addition to world-class treatment, Cliffside Malibu offers luxury accommodations, a serene environment, five-star dining, and plentiful amenities. We understand that addiction treatment is a rigorous process. Therefore, we provide for your comfort and relaxation at every turn, allowing you to rejuvenate, to meet the demands of treatment with your greatest energy and attention.

For more information on Cliffside Malibu, visit cliffsidemalibu.com