Alcohol misuse and harms to others

An international study on what harms can be experienced by persons close to a heavy drinker


The main goal of this research project is to gain insight into the harms that alcohol misuse can incur on those other than the drinker; that is, the family, friends, colleagues and others whom the drinker meets and deals with in everyday life. The aim is to be able to contribute new knowledge in order to reduce harms that alcohol misuse can have on others. This international project can be compared to the role that research into passive smoking had in developing new regulations and legislation to protect the non-smoker.


Initial studies in a few high-income countries (Australia, New Zealand, and the US) show that heavy drinking can hurt families, create financial burdens, reduce quality of life, and engender fears and injuries. These second-hand effects may double the social costs directly incurred by harms to drinkers themselves. The project, which has the title: “Alcohol’s harms to others: multinational cultural contexts and policy implications”, builds upon the work of the previous international project, “Gender, alcohol and culture: An international study (GENACIS). Read more on GENACIS at

The study

The harm experienced from others’ heavy drinking can occur in different social and cultural contexts, so that both the type and severity of harms in relation to individual, social and economic factors will be taken into account. Furthermore, variations in drinking cultures and alcohol policies as well as additional effects of harm such as quality of life will be assessed. The project involves a large international team of researchers who collaborate with the aim of analysing data from 36 countries. Professor Kim Bloomfield of the Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research is one of the three multiple principal investigators of the study. With survey data representing the general population in these study countries, the researchers will analyse what sorts of harms people experience from heavy drinkers in their lives. Additionally, they will examine the associations between national and regional alcohol polices and the prevalence of harm experienced due to a heavy drinker.  The project will run until 2020.


The project is part of an international grant for ’Alcohol’s Harm to Others: Multinational Cultural Contexts and Policy Implications’ from The United States National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism – NIAAA.


Project managers:

Kim Bloomfield, Dr.P.H., Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research, Aarhus University

Thomas K. Greenfield, Ph.D., Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, Emeryville, CA, USA

Sharon C. Wilsnack, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Science, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences



Alcohol Research Group, Philadelphia, USA:

Katherine J. Karriker-Jaffe, Ph.D. Libo Li, Ph.D. Won Kim Cook, Ph.D.

University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, USA:

Richard W. Wilsnack, Ph.D. Arlinda F. Kristjanson, Ph.D. Perry W. Benson, Ph.D.

Charité Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany, Department for Biostatistics and Clinical Epidemiology:

Ulrike Grittner, Dr. Phil.