One in five people in England have been harmed by somebody else’s drinking in the past year, with some coerced into sex by their partners.
While people mostly complain of being kept awake due to other’s drinking, almost one in 20 have experienced aggression which led to them being physically threatened, hurt or pressurised into having sex.
The study, published in the online journal BMJ Open, is the biggest survey of its kind.
Researchers collected data from 4,874 adults across England who were asked about other people’s drinking – including frequency and harms caused by excessive alcohol – as well as their own alcohol intake.
The most commonly reported harm was being kept awake at night (8%) or feeling anxious/uncomfortable at a social occasion (nearly 7%). Men (5.3%) were slightly more likely than women (4%) to experience violence or aggression.
But women were around twice as likely as men to say they had experienced emotional harm or neglect (just under 5% compared with just over 2%).
One in five people who were forced or pressurised into something sexual said this was at the hands of a stranger, but 23% said this was caused by the partner they lived with – rising to almost 40% when including partners who lived elsewhere.
The researchers, from the Risk Factors Intelligence Team at Public Health England, wrote: “The most prevalent harms could be considered insignificant, but even apparently minor harms such as sleep disruption can have an impact on health and quality of life, particularly if experienced persistently.
“Policies that focus on alcohol must take into consideration the impact of drinking on those other than the drinker.”
For information and support on alcohol use, visit Drink Aware.