The impact of alcohol

Alcohol impacts not only on the person who drinks, it also has significant effects on the family, the workplace and society

  • Almost three quarters of adult Australians have been negatively affected by someone else’s drinking.
  • 367 people died and nearly 14,000 people were hospitalised because of the drinking of others in 2005.
  • More than 70,000 Australians were victims of alcohol-related assault, among which 24,000 people were victims of alcohol-related domestic violence.
  • Almost 20,000 children across Australia were victims of substantiated alcohol-related child abuse.
  • Heavy drinkers have cost others around them more than $14 billion in out-of-pocket expenses, foregone wages and productivity, and more than $6 billion in intangible costs.[1]

These shocking facts come from a major study of Australians aged 18 or older conducted in 2008 and commissioned by the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation.

It is easy to gloss over these sorts of statistics until you realise that behind each statistic is an individual who has experienced trauma of some nature, families who have been disrupted, communities that have been negatively affected.

Impact on the family

Drinking alcohol could affect your unborn baby. Women who drink alcohol during their pregnancy are more likely to have babies who are  smaller at birth, are born prematurely or who have foetal alcohol syndrome. The incidence of foetal alcohol syndrome in Australia is low[2], but for the families affected the number is irrelevant. Pregnant women are, therefore, advised not to drink any alcohol during their pregnancy.

Family members are usually the ones that are most affected by the drinking of another family member. The effect on the partner of a person who drinks excessively can range from embarrassment to loneliness to abuse. The effects on children of parents who drink excessively include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of guilt – children often feel that the parent’s drinking is their fault
  • Social isolation caused by being ashamed of bringing friends home
  • Loneliness and fear of abandonment
  • Chronic depression
  • High levels of anxiety and stress
  • Physical and/or psychological abuse

Impact on friends

Friends are affected by your drinking. When you get drunk at a party this embarrasses your friends and if you are violent when you are drunk your friends could be physically harmed.

Impact on the workplace

A person drinking or suffering from a hangover at work is not as productive, is more likely to have or cause an accident and is more prone to violence. This impacts on colleagues who have to cover for the person and who could be at risk from an accident or violence.

Most people who drink excessively are employed and the workplace and it is, therefore, important that action is taken in the workplace to lessen the impact of an employee’s drinking. An effective intervention is to test blood alcohol levels of employees in the workplace. CMM Technology™ supply a wide variety of alcohol testing products. These range from disposable saliva and breath alcohol testers, through to state-of-the-art digital handheld breathalysers.[3]

Impact on strangers

Most of us realise, to some extent, that if we drink excessively it affects our family, friends and colleagues; but very few people consider the effects on complete strangers.

If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident after drinking, a stranger could be injured or even killed. This impacts on his life, family and friends. If you cause a disturbance in a public place after drinking this affects the other people present.


Alcohol is a legal and socially acceptable substance, but taken to excess it can cause harm to others. It is, therefore, important that we all learn to drink in moderation. If we find that our drinking is out of control it is our responsibility to seek help.

Works Cited

Alcohol & Pregnancy. (2010). Retrieved March 23, 2011, from Community Health Nurses Western Australia:

Drug & Alcohol Testing -> Alcohol Testing. (2010). Retrieved March 16, 2011, from CMM Technology:

The Range and Magnitude of Alcohol’s Harm to Others. (2010). Retrieved March 23, 2011, from Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation:

[1] (The Range and Magnitude of Alcohol’s Harm to Others, 2010)

[2] (Alcohol & Pregnancy, 2010)

[3] (Drug & Alcohol Testing -> Alcohol Testing, 2010)

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