According to a recent report (‘Alcohol’s Harm to Others in Ireland’) by the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) on the extent of harm caused in society by alcohol entitled “One in four Irish people have experienced problems because of someone else’s drinking”.

The report is interesting in that it unusually looks at the ‘other’ and not the one who is drinking. All too often when there is someone in our life who is a heavy drinker or addicted to a substance, or even just someone with a problem be it physical or mental, the focus tends to be dominantly on the ‘sick’ person. The affect the ‘sick’ individual has on others is all too frequently ignored.

As the report shows, living, working or socialising with an alcoholic takes it’s toll on many people: people who feel forgotten and unsupported. For those close to the alcoholic their family and social life can be greatly affected and they themselves may be highly anxious, stressed and/or depressed about their situation.

Some of the key findings include:

  • Overall, one in ten Irish parents/guardians reported that children experienced at least one or more harms in the past 12 months as a result of someone else’s drinking – verbal abuse, left in unsafe situations, witness to serious violence in the home and physical abuse.
  • The impact of co-workers drinking can affect a worker’s job satisfaction, create tension and the need to cover–up for problems of co-workers who are heavy drinkers, in particularly among young adults.
  • Over one in four people (28%) in the general Irish population reported experiencing at least one or more negative consequences as a result of someone else’s drinking such as family problems, passenger with a drunk driver, physical assaults, property vandalised and money problems.

Some people address the toll that someone’s drinking or behaviour is having on them by attending a counsellor. They realise that there is nothing they can do to control or ‘fix’ the other person, that they can only take control of their life in an attempt to change their situation. Short therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Brief Solution Focused Therapy can help those suffering from the effects of another’s behaviour and empower them to separate themselves from the stresses, stains and anxiety of being associated with such a person.

If you are suffering today or have suffered in the past in the home or workplace from the effects of someone else’s drinking then therapy may help you.

The reports are here:


Two Irish Times articles can be read here:
Irish drinking habits taking heavy toll on others

One in four affected by other people’s problem drinking

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