The extraordinary burden on others from Ireland’s harmful use of alcohol.

New research report highlights an untold story:  

the extraordinary burden on others from Ireland’s harmful use of alcohol. 


·         One in two people have been bothered and harassed, felt afraid and unsafe from strangers’ drinking.

·         Two in five people are stressed and threatened, and have experienced familial difficulties, in a blend of psychological and tangible harms, from drinkers they know. 

·         Children, so often the silent voice, are negatively affected from someone else’s drinking and experience specific harms including verbally abuse and witness to serious violence in their homes. 

·         For one in seven workers, alcohol is making a significant factor in their workplace, where extra work hours and days lost impacted on their ability to do their work. 

·         Total estimated cost of Alcohol Harm to Others is assessed at €872 million 


Alcohol Action Ireland today welcomed the publication of a new research report that highlights the burden of alcohol harms to others across Irish society. The report ‘The untold story: Harms experienced in the Irish population due to others’ drinking’ is co-researched and written by Dr Ann Hope and Professor Joe Barry, Trinity College Dublin, and offers the most comprehensive view of the scale of harm and costs arising. 

Commenting in the central findings, Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications and Advocacy, Alcohol Action Ireland, said: 

This report will give our legislators and policy makers a clear insight to the scale of alcohol harms to others. For too long the harms experienced has been passively disregarded; this report demonstrates not only the tangible impacts on the many but also the significant psychological impacts felt today and harboured for the future.”  


Reflecting on the wider implications, he said: 

This report affords us all an opportunity to reflect on not only the economic cost attributable to the impact of alcohol harms but also how, as a society, we continue to tolerate and accommodate the behaviour of those who continue to have a harmful relationship with alcohol. 

This important and timely insight from Hope, Barry and Byrne comes at a time when any critical analysis of our pervading alcohol culture is routinely dismissed by the alcohol industry, and their surrogates, as anti-business and counter to popular belief.  

Ordinary people, going about their daily lives, should not have to accept this burden of harm simply because others cannot modify their behaviour to a low risk engagement with alcohol. In a shared society, we all have a responsibility to understand the impact of high risk behaviour and the cost borne. 

The Public Health Alcohol Bill crucially allows Ireland an opportunity to begin a generational shift, much like the innovation of tobacco legislation, it will afford us some firm ground to say ‘we will no longer accept such burdens’. The principal measures of the proposed Bill will encourage a modest reduction in alcohol consumption and so lessen the alcohol harms being experienced by so many in our society.” 

The Public Health Alcohol Bill has recently completed Second Stage in Dáil Éireann, having passed all stages in Seanad Éireann in December 2017. It is anticipated that Bill will come before the Select Committee on Health to complete Committee Stage in the coming weeks.  

Editor’s Notes: 

The full report ‘The untold story: Harms experienced in the Irish population due to others’ drinking’ is available at