Alcohol-related harm

Alcohol increases the risk of physical, mental and social harm to drinkers, as is evident in the prevalence and severity of a range of alcohol-related diseases, injuries and social problems in Australia and across the world.

This research stream focuses on the health and social harms related to alcohol use, including harm from others’ drinking, family violence, child abuse and neglect. Our key objectives are to build state of the art national estimates of alcohol’s harm to others (AHTO), to better understand and address precipitants of AHTO, and to compare findings with those in other countries in Asia, Europe and the Americas. Synthesising these findings and taking into account the national contexts and policies affecting AHTO, including national and international service response systems (emergency rooms, police, family violence services, etc.), this program of research informs local and global alcohol policies and service development.

CAPR leads projects on AHTO funded by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Australian Research Council (ARC), and the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) that analyse:

  • Australian and cross-national surveys of alcohol’s harm to others
  • Extensive national response agency data on alcohol’s harm to others
  • Qualitative research on drinking and alcohol’s harm to others
  • Changes in alcohol’s harm to others between 2008-2021
  • Correlates and precipitants of alcohol’s harm to others

Research Team:

Project leaders and senior researchers: Anne-Marie Laslett, Robin Room, Sandra Kuntsche, Jason Jiang, Robyn Dwyer

Projects within this area:

Adult drinking and child maltreatment in families, communities and societies protection

Anne-Marie’s Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) program of research (2019-2022) measures how adult drinking is linked to child maltreatment within families, communities and societies. Leveraging extensive international collaboration, the project uses data from 20 countries, including Australia, to develop new knowledge about links between adult drinking, fathering involvement, community-level alcohol availability, societal drinking patterns and harms to children. In 2021, Anne-Marie published on the financial effects of others’ drinking on children in 15 countries; parental risk constellations and future Alcohol Use Disorder in children; how the presence of children is associated with parental alcohol consumption and intimate partner violence; disclosures by adolescents of harming others during their most recent drinking sessions; a general paper on the prevalence of family violence in Australia; and an important paper on how drinking modifies the relationship between men’s gender-inequitable attitudes and their perpetration of intimate partner violence. The national and cross-national policy-relevant data collected and its analysis and findings inform the prevention of alcohol-related child maltreatment and family violence and alcohol policy nationally and globally.

Funder: ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award: DE 190100329, $361,357

Investigator: Anne-Marie Laslett

Alcohol’s harm to others: patterns, costs, disparities and precipitants

Underpinned by socioecological public health conceptual models, this linkage project will comprehensively estimate the current burden and costs of alcohol’s harm to others (AHTO)  in Australia, as well as study disparities and trends in and precipitants of AHTO. Since commencing in May 2021, an advisory group, including stakeholders from Turning Point, Odyssey House, Western Australia Police, Australian Centre for Child Protection and the Commonwealth Department of Health, has been established. The project has to date:

  • Collated AHTO secondary data on Australian deaths, common and serious assaults and family violence police reports
  • Piloted and implemented the 2021 national AHTO survey in September-December
  • Focussed on analysing deaths linked to others’ drinking, family violence and street assaults
  • Welcomed two new PhD students – Dr Amany Tanyos and Ms Cassandra Hopkins
  • Published 13 articles and reports in 2021

Investigators: Anne-Marie Laslett, Robin Room, Sandra Kuntsche, Heng (Jason) Jiang, Robyn Dwyer, Chris Doran (Central Queensland University), Luke Hutchins (FARE), Rebecca Jenkinson (Australian Institute of Family Studies), Diana Egerton-Warburton (Monash Health, Australasian College of Emergency Medicine)

Partners: Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australasian College of Emergency Medicine, Alcohol and Drug Foundation, Australian Rechabites Foundation, Monash Health

Researchers: Dan Anderson-Luxford, Bree Willoughby

PhD Students: Amany Tanyos, Cassandra Hopkins

Funding: Australian Research Council (ARC LP190100698: $502,501; $1,244,300 including cash and in-kind contributions), 2021-2024

World Health Organization/Thai Health Continuing the Harm from Others' Drinking Project Phase II

Anne-Marie and Robin continue to meet with WHO and Thai Health Promotion Foundation chief investigators Dag Rekve and Orratai Waleewong as well as principal investigators from Lao PDR, Sri Lanka, India, Vietnam and Thailand as part of the WHO Harm from Others’ Drinking Phase 2 Project studying the impact of others’ drinking on health, crime and family support systems. Anne-Marie and Robin are leading writing workshops to produce multiple papers focused on firstly interpersonal violence associated with alcohol of cases presenting in emergency departments and police stations and secondly comparisons of samples in the general population with people presenting to response agencies for alcohol-related harms from others’ drinking.

Investigators: Anne-Marie Laslett and Robin Room

Funder: Thai Health Promotion Foundation, 2020-2024

This project involved a series of reports in March, May and October examining: (1) the availability of data concerning alcohol-related harm in Australia, and (2) subsequent analyses of alcohol-related harm during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. The final report provided an in-depth examination of the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on police-reported family and non-family violence in four Australian jurisdictions: NSW, Victoria, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory. Overall, alcohol-related non-family violence appeared to decline during periods of more severe COVID-19 restrictions, coinciding with bar closures and less opportunities for alcohol-fuelled street violence, and then increased significantly as restrictions eased. Trends in alcohol-related family violence were mixed. Despite widely reported increases in family violence during COVID-19, our study found significant decreases in most jurisdictions during periods of more severe COVID-19 restrictions, followed by substantial increases as restrictions eased. This decline in family violence was not expected and may reflect changes in police reporting practices and the ability and/or willingness of victim-survivors to seek help during periods of “lockdown”. A series of papers are planned for publication in 2022.

Investigators: Dan Anderson-Luxford, Anne-Marie Laslett, Heng Jiang

Funder: Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education

The KODY project: Researching an all-of-family program in family violence & substance misuse

The KODY research project (Kids First [Caring Dads] and Odyssey House Victoria [Kids in Focus]) surrounds the innovative KODY intervention which aims to address the combined impact of harmful behaviours, alcohol and other drugs on family relationships. The research will investigate a range of issues including the problems associated with the co-occurrence of domestic and family violence (DFV) with alcohol and other drug (AOD) issues; the lack of attention to children’s needs; the requirement to develop safe, "all-of-family" responses; and the need for an appropriate policy context that responds to programming and resourcing for families with intersecting problems. Expected outcomes include better evidence for countering family violence; evaluation measures for programs addressing fathering, DFV and AOD; and policy frameworks for integrated service provision. Changing the behaviour of men who use violence is a significant social challenge and the outcomes of this targeted approach should have ramifications nationally and internationally.

Investigators: Cathy Humphreys (University of Melbourne), Anne-Marie Laslett (CAPR, La Trobe University), Margaret Kertesz (University of Melbourne), Menka Tsantefski (Griffith University, Queensland), Katreena Scott (Western University, Canada)

Partners: Odyssey House, Centre for Alcohol Policy Research

Funder: Australian Research Council, LP 200200847, 2021-2024

Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study (POCLS): analysing outcomes for young people in out of home care

This competitive state government grant analysed the behavioural developmental outcomes for children and young people in New South Wales, with and without birth parents who have a history of alcohol or other drug problems. The final report, an evidence to action piece and a peer-reviewed article were submitted to New South Wales Family and Community Services team, meeting all project milestones. The findings indicate that parental substance misuse did not predict worse outcomes relative to the multitude of other problems children in care had experienced. The final paper for the project is under review.

Investigators: Anne-Marie Laslett, Emmanuel Kuntsche, Sandra Kuntsche, Prue Atkinson, Geoffrey Leggat

Funder: New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services, Insights and Analysis (FACSIAR)

United Nations Multi-Country Study of Men and Violence (UNMCS): secondary analyses of men’s drinking and harm to women and children

Investigators: Anne-Marie Laslett, Ingrid M. Wilson, Sandra Kuntsche, Emma Fulu, Rachel Jewkes, Angela Taft, Kathryn Graham

Funding: Australian Research Council, DE 190100329, 2019-2022

Means of decreasing harm to women and children from men's drinking internationally

Action is needed to ensure alcohol policy action is taken to recognise and reduce ways in which alcohol causes harm to women and children, particularly given much harm occurs due to the effects of others’, and largely men’s, drinking. This paper, funded by ThaiHealth is separate from WHO’s response, and aims to stimulate further global action to understand and reduce alcohol-related harm to women and children. The project involves writing paper/s outlining the harms to women and children, including policy options and interventions that will reduce alcohol related harm to women  and children. A series of coordinated international workshops and meetings will be led by Anne-Marie.

Investigators: Anne-Marie Laslett and Robin Room

Research team: Sandra Kuntsche, Bree Willoughby, Amany Tanyos, Cassandra Hopkins

Funder: World Health Organization - Thai Health Promotion Foundation

Substance use policies and public health in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals for the period to 2030. WHO was charged with implementing Goal 3 – ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’ (Good health and well-being). As the research team’s analysis documents, there had been up to now rather little attention by WHO or other public health agencies to integrating progress on alcohol and drug issues into the Sustainable Development Goals, and our study is intended to be a substantial step in closing that gap. This background paper on substance use and development was commissioned and is a contribution to WHO’s global status report on progress in attainment of SDG health target 3.5 ‘Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol’. This commissioned report will used as background document for WHO.

Investigators: Robin Room, Megan Cook, Anne-Marie Laslett

Funder: World Health Organization, 2021-2022