Alcohol Use Disorders (45) The single most important cause of harm to others?

13 February, 2024

Eduardo Bianco has noted: "It can be argued that alcohol use disorders are the single most important cause of harm to others (accidents, violence, gender-based violence)."

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There are other (non-medical) causes, such as war and social injustice, that would arguably take the top spot in terms of causing harm.

But I agree that if we consider specifically medical causes, alcohol use disorders are indeed near the top, alongside medical errors and low-quality health care.

We are fortunate to have several experts in alcohol use disorders who have joined HIFA for this discussion. I would like to ask them (and others):

What are the global estimates for harm to others caused by alcohol use disorders?

How does this compare with other medical causes of harm?

How might this harm be categorised (eg accidents, violence, gender-based violence) and quantified?

What is the picture in different countries?

What attempts (if any) are being made to measure harm to others?

What measures can be taken at national, community and individual level to better protect people from harm?

If alcohol is indeed one of the greatest causes of harm to others, is this truly understood by the general public, by health professionals, and by policymakers?

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of HIFA (Healthcare Information For All), a global health community that brings all stakeholders together around the shared goal of universal access to reliable healthcare information. HIFA has 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting in four languages and representing all parts of the global evidence ecosystem. HIFA is administered by Global Healthcare Information Network, a UK-based nonprofit in official relations with the World Health Organization. Email: