Harms from alcohol consumption by strangers in five Indian states and policy implications

Marissa B. Esser, Gopalkrishna Gururaj, Girish N. Rao, Deepak Jayarajan, Lakshmanan Sethu, Pratima Murthy, David H. Jernigan, Vivek Benegal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction and Aims. India has a checkered history of alcohol prohibition; however, alcohol use is becoming more prevalent. We assessed the reporting of tangible and intangible harms from strangers' alcohol consumption by respondents' sex and how respondents' drinking and sociodemographic characteristics were associated with the reporting of these alcohol-related harms by strangers. Design and Methods. We analysed cross-sectional data from household interviews administered in five Indian states from October 2011 to May 2012. We analysed data among 7332 adults who responded to all 12 questions on alcohol-related harms from strangers' drinking and for whom data were available on drinking status and sex. Result. In this sample, 63.2% reported experiences of one or more harms from strangers' drinking in the past year, with 47.4% reporting at least one tangible harm. Nearly one-fifth reported being physically harmed from strangers' alcohol consumption. Drinking by women did not predict reports of alcohol-related harms from strangers, while drinking by men was associated with at least 1.9 greater odds of reporting these harms compared with non-drinkers. Living in rural areas was associated with reduced odds of reporting psychological harms from strangers' drinking among women but greater odds of reporting physical and sexual harms among men. Discussion and Conclusions. In five Indian states, both drinkers and non-drinkers report being harmed by strangers' alcohol consumption. Greater implementation and enhanced enforcement of multilevel interventions may effectively reduce these alcohol-related harms, such as regulating the density of alcohol outlets, screening and brief interventions in health settings and community empowerment initiatives. [Esser MB, Gururaj G, Rao GN, Jayarajan D, Sethu L, Murthy P, Jernigan DH, Benegal V, Collaborators group on epidemiological study of patterns and consequences of alcohol misuse in India. Harms from alcohol consumption by strangers in five Indian states and policy implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
StateAccepted/In press - 2016



  • Alcohol drinking
  • Prevention
  • Public health
  • Social behaviour
  • Social control policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Esser, M. B., Gururaj, G., Rao, G. N., Jayarajan, D., Sethu, L., Murthy, P., Jernigan, D. H., & Benegal, V. (Accepted/In press). Harms from alcohol consumption by strangers in five Indian states and policy implications. Drug and Alcohol Review. https://doi.org/10.1111/dar.12470