Unveiling the Hidden Effects: Men's Alcohol Consumption and its Ripple Effect on Women and Children

In a world where alcohol consumption is deeply ingrained in social norms, it's crucial to recognize the often-overlooked secondary effects that alcohol can have on vulnerable populations, particularly women and children. While alcohol policies have proven effective in curbing alcohol-related harms experienced by people who drink alcohol, a critical gap exists in policy considerations in relation to violence against women and children. This untapped dimension calls for a paradigm shift in alcohol policy research and implementation.

RTI International researchers recently published an article with a team of international collaborators to describe how alcohol policies can impact and potentially prevent harm done to women and children. Researchers conducted a rapid review of reviews of alcohol policy studies to understand what interventions and practices can effectively address alcohol consumption and its secondary effects.

The World Health Organization's comprehensive list of cost-effective alcohol control policies has long served as a cornerstone for battling alcohol-related harms. Yet, the focus has predominantly centered on the direct impacts of these policies on individuals who consume alcohol. Recent insights shed light on the need for a fresh perspective – one that encompasses a comprehensive framework for change.

Considering the impact that alcohol control policies and other population-level interventions can have on women and children is imperative to truly addressing the impact of alcohol on all individuals, not just those who consume alcohol. Pairing traditional alcohol consumption reduction policies with more holistic interventions may provide a more complete way to address alcohol’s indirect impacts on women and children.

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Karriker-Jaffe KJ, Blackburn N, Graham K, Walker MJ, Room R, Wilson IM, Waleewong O, Gilchrist G, Ramsoomar L, Laslett AM. Can alcohol policy prevent harms to women and children from men's alcohol consumption? An overview of existing literature and suggested ways forward. Int J Drug Policy. 2023 Aug 2;119:104148. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2023.104148. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37540918.

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Katherine Karriker-Jaffe

  • Behavioral health
  • Health disparities
  • Social determinants of health