More than 60% of people have a 'known heavy drinker' in their life

The HSE has launched a new survey looking at alcohol’s harm to others in Ireland

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File photo. Image: Philip Toscano / PA Archive/Press Association Images

Half of all people living in Ireland say they've felt harassed, afraid or unsafe because of someone else's drinking.

A new report from the HSE looks at the impact it has on children, family members and work colleagues.

Just over 60% of people know a heavy drinker in their life.

Two in every five people (44%) report being stressed, harassed and insulted by a drinker they know.

The survey also shows the impact a heavy drinker can have on children, with many experiencing verbal abuse and serious violence in their homes.

51% of people reported experiencing harm due to strangers’ drinking in the past 12 months, while one in seven workers (14%) reported work-related problems due to co-workers’ drinking.

Eunan McKinney from Alcohol Action Ireland explained: "What this [study] does is it just brings about an opening for a voice that we haven't necessarily heard in the debate before - that is the voice of children who are living in fear, or the voice of co-workers who have to do extra work."

Senator Frances Black says a persons drinking it can also have huge psychological impacts on those around them.

She observed: "Alcohol in Ireland... we're almost in denial around the impact it has - on the individual, but really on the family also."

Co-author of today’s report, Dr Ann Hope, says introducing minimum unit pricing as part of the Public Health Alcohol Bill is key.

"Until we fixed that we're going nowhere," she argued. "As long as we have cheap alcohol and very cheap alcohol... we can't fix it."

It's estimated that the economic cost of 'alcohol's harm to others' stands at around €870 million - with the HSE saying the survey results do not estimate 'substantial intangible costs' such as fear, pain, suffering or lost quality of life.

Reporting by Paul Quinn and Stephen McNeice