Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Is there such a thing as passive drinking?
People who are in close contact with someone with an alcohol problem could end up suffering from something analogous to passive drinking. Researchers from Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand studied 3,068 people aged between 12 and 80. The participants were asked whether they had any heavy drinkers in their life and one in three said they had. People who lived with a heavy drinker had the lowest scores on measures of general health and personal well-being - defined as people's satisfaction with their relationships, work, health and what they were achieving in life. However, even people with a relatively low exposure to heavy drinkers, such as a colleague or a more distant relative with a drink problem, generally reported lower satisfaction with life compared to those who knew no heavy drinkers. The study is interesting but doesn't show which direction the link goes in. It could be the case, for instance, that unhappy people are more attracted to heavy drinkers or that unhappy people drink more but it is their unhappiness not their drinking that affects other people. And of course the fact that two things - heavy drinking and unhappiness - happen together does not meant that they are linked any more than riots in Egypt and Green Bay Packers' Superbowl triumphs are. But the study does add some weight to the commonsense idea that heavy drinking isn't good either for oneself or the people around one.