Harm, tangible or feared: young Victorians' adverse experiences from others' drinking or drug use

Sarah Callinan, Robin Room

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Harms from alcohol experienced by someone other than the drinker have received increasing attention of late, but have not been compared to harms from others drug use. The aim of the current study is to compare the reported harms that are attributable to the alcohol use of others to those attributable to drugs, distinguishing between different types of harm in order to highlight how reported harms may be influenced by perception and social standing of use of the substance. Method: Respondents aged 16-24 from Victoria, Australia, completed the Victorian Youth Alcohol and Drug Survey (n=5001), including questions on demographics, drug and alcohol consumption, on the types of harms they experienced attributable to drugs and alcohol, as well as harms they perpetrated after using drugs or alcohol. Results: For both drug and alcohol related harms, reports of harms loaded into two groups using multiple correspondence analysis: tangible harms such as assault, and amenity impacts such as being annoyed by people under the influence. Amenity impacts attributed to alcohol were more likely to be experienced by those who reported drug use and vice versa, while the tangible impacts were more likely to be reported by those who used both drugs and alcohol. Conclusions: Reports of amenity impacts from others appear to be influenced by the perception of the drug in question more than tangible impacts such as assault. Particularly for amenity impacts, the greater stigma attached to drug use may make respondents more likely to consider themselves harmed by drugs than they would when compared to alcohol, something that needs to be taken into account when assessing harms by either alcohol or drugs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401 - 406
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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