Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 197–204 | Cite as

On the Nature of Harms Reported by those Identifying a Problematic Drinker in the Family, an Exploratory Study

  • Lynda BerendsEmail author
  • Jason Ferris
  • Anne-Marie Laslett


A national telephone survey on alcohol-related harms experienced by others consisted of 2,649 randomly selected adults and 415 (15 %) commented on the family member whose heavy drinking most negatively affected them. Relationships comprised close family (child, parent, sibling; 47 %), partner (22 %), extended family (e.g., aunt/uncle, cousin, grandparent; 19 %), and ex-partner (12 %). Common harms were being emotionally hurt and having a serious argument. An average of 3.4 harms was reported and multiple harms meant a higher likelihood of significant impact. Harms were classified into four domains which accounted for approximately 60 % of the explained variance: psychological (26.1 %), physical (11.4 %), social (10.9 %), and practical (9.6 %). Psychological and practical domains were associated with significant harm as were being female and sharing a home with the drinker. Perceived harms from a problematic drinking family member are broad ranging and have significant impact. Advice, information, and directions for family members dealing with a problematic drinker need development.


Family Alcohol Harm MCA 



This research was supported by a grant from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lynda Berends
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jason Ferris
    • 1
    • 3
  • Anne-Marie Laslett
    • 1
  1. 1.Turning Point Alcohol & Drug CentreMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.National Drug and Alcohol Research CentreUniversity of New South WalesRandwickAustralia
  3. 3.Institute for Social Science ResearchUniversity of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

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