Second-hand drinking describes the negative impacts of an individual’s drinking on others. Drinking alcohol has an effect on the brain, therefore, influencing behavior. Negative behaviors or behavior patterns that occur as a result of drinking can be harmful to others, causing emotional and/or physical trauma. An example of second-hand drinking includes sexual harassment and/or assault. According to a recent study researching the effects of harm done by the drinking of others, more than 70% of teenage girls report receiving unwanted sexual attention from other drinkers. Unfortunately, is not the only risk that adolescents face as a result of second-hand drinking.

The Research

Researchers studied a sample of Australian teenagers and identified a collection of specific harms that they experience while drinking at the hands of other drinkers. The research utilized over 3,000 Australian teenagers who use alcohol at dangerous levels for their age and gender. The study found that adolescent girls are at a considerable risk of several specific harms from others’ drinking, specifically harassment.

Harm reported by female participants include:

  • Receiving unwanted sexual attention (reported by over 70%)
  • Harassment in public spaces (42%)
  • Being put in a state of fear (33%)
  • Being left alone in unsafe situations (31%)

Furthermore, the study found that adolescent males were also at a higher risk of harms involving three specific circumstances.

Harm reported by male participants include:

  • Getting shoved or pushed (42%)
  • Being verbally abused or yelled at (38%)
  • Experiencing physical assault (17%)

Key Takeaways

Over one-third of study participants, regardless of gender, reported witnessing serious violence within the previous year. When compared with the general population, teenagers drinking at unsafe levels were up to three times as likely to experience harm done by other drinkers.

At least one in five adolescents drink at unsafe levels at least once a month, and this trend continues with no sign of decline. Consequently, teenagers have the highest rate of alcohol-related emergency room visits when compared to other age groups. Alcohol continues to be the most significant risk factor in adolescents, often leading to injury or death.

Looking for Help?

Alcohol research mainly focuses on the harmful effects on the drinkers themselves. However, there is a growing interest around second-hand drinking. Alcohol use does not just harm the drinker. Excessive drinking harms others as well, as evidenced by this and other similar studies. When adolescents consume alcohol, they put themselves and others at risk. Increasing awareness around the dangers of drinking and providing proper education to at-risk teenagers is a proactive measure, essential to harm reduction. At Fort Behavioral Health, we understand the harm that can be done as a result of drinking and/or using. We work with you to heal the harmful experiences that can often perpetuate addiction as a means of creating a solid foundation for recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, call us today at 844.332.1807.


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