(CNN) – About one-fifth of adults in the United States have experienced some form of harm due to someone else’s behavior while drinking.
That’s according to a study published Monday in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, which found that in 2015, an estimated 53 million adults — or nearly 1 in 5 — said they had experienced at least one harm attributable to someone else’s drinking in the past year.
That harm ranged from property damage to physical injury.
“One thing to think about with the one-in-five number is that it is only limited to a snapshot in time of about a year. So probably more people have actually been harmed by someone else’s drinking at other times in their life,” said Katherine Karriker-Jaffe, a senior scientist with the Alcohol Research Group at the Public Health Institute in Emeryville, California, who was an author of the study.
The study involved analyzing data on 8,750 adults who answered survey questions from two databases: the 2015 National Alcohol’s Harm to Others Survey and the 2015 National Alcohol Survey.
The surveys were conducted from April 2014 to June 2015. The study did not include children.
Each adult was asked whether they had experienced any of 10 different types of harm in the past 12 months caused by “someone who had been drinking.”
The different types of harm included harassment; feeling threatened or afraid; having belongings ruined; having property vandalized; being pushed, hit or assaulted; being physically harmed; being in a traffic accident; being a passenger in a vehicle with a drunk driver; having family or marital problems; and having financial trouble.
The researchers found that 21% of women and 23% of men in the study reported experiencing at least one of those harms in the past year. The most prevalent type of harm was harassment, according to the data.
When it comes to harms other than harassment, “for women, the most prevalent are family and marital problems or financial problems due to someone else’s drinking and a close third runner-up would be driving-related harms — so riding with a drunk driver or actually having a crash caused by someone who had been drinking,” Karriker-Jaffe said.
Other than harassment, “for men, the driving-related harms were the most common, followed by property damage and vandalism,” she said.
Overall, women were more likely than men to report harm by a spouse, partner or family member who had been drinking, and men were more likely to report harm because of a stranger’s drinking, the data showed.
The study had some limitations, including that the data was self-reported, which lends itself to bias if a person in the study was not answering survey questions honestly.
Also, more research is needed to determine whether similar findings would emerge for other years, as the data was collected in 2014 and 2015.