1 in 5 adults are negatively affected by someone else's drinking

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Alcohol is a treat best enjoyed responsibly, as countless advertisements have cautioned. But as it turns out, if you ignore that advice you might harm more than just yourself.

A new study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs on Monday concluded that over 20 percent of adults in the U.S. have been harmed in some way by someone else's drinking — from property damage to physical harassment, and everything in between. The study analyzed survey data taken from 8,750 adults back in 2015, Fox reported.

While drunk driving is perhaps the most well-known negative effect of alcohol consumption, the factors surveyed for in this study also included less apparent effects such as "feeling threatened or afraid," "having family or marital problems," and "having financial trouble." And given that the surveys only asked about any of these effects occuring in the past 12 months, the one-in-five figure "might be an underestimate," said Katherine Karriker-Jaffe, one of the study's authors.

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There were some discrepancies in the different sources of harm for men and women who answered the survey: Women were more likely to report harm by partners or family members, while men were more likely to report harm by strangers who had been drinking. But harassment was by far the most common harmful effect, for both men and women.

Investigating the secondhand effects of drinking is a field "in its relative infancy," said Timothy Naimi, an alcohol epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center — so more research must be conducted in order to determine the best ways to lessen the harms associated with alcohol consumption. Read more about the results of this study at Fox.

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