What Do You Know About Second Hand Drinking?

Posted: January 14, 2015 by in Recovery Treatment Care Center


We turn a blind eye to justify normally unsuitable behaviors, (e.g. being aggressive, neglecting to get one’s children or sexual assault) as somehow acceptable because the person just had too much to drink. We tend to overlook the ripple effects of drug abuse. This could include really aggressive behavior from an addict, a mother neglecting her children, or young men and women being victims of sexual assault. These are examples of Secondhand Drinking (SHD): the secondary effects of an individual’s alcohol abuse, which encompasses: alcoholism, binge drinking, alcohol abuse, and heavy social drinking

Second hand drinking is a term to describe the undesirable impacts of an individual’s drinking rituals on others. The secondary drinking behaviors are not intentional; rather they are what happen when alcohol changes the way an individual’s brain works.

Drunken behaviors are the negative actions of an individual that occur as a consequence of excessive alcohol changing a person’s mood. These behaviors include:

  • Drunken violence
  • Physical fights
  • Verbal, physical, psychological bullying, neglect, harassing
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Unprotected, undesirable, unplanned sex, or rape
  • Issues at work or school
  • Suicide
  • Aggressive behavior at home.

Prolonged SHD can result in physical and psychological dependence on alcoholic relatives, family members or close friends. Their brain and neurons become wired and accustomed to handle the other person’s excessive drinking practices. A lifetime of these behaviors (e.g. being the victim of drunk-driving accident, for example) develops coping skills. Examples of this include: retreating inside one’s mind or physically leaving the room when faced with oppressive or scary drinking behaviors; lashing out with reckless fits of anger that spills out into different circumstances as it cannot be directed to the individual abusively drinking or on drugs for safety reasons; impetuous endeavors to be extraordinarily “great” to compensate for or “fix” the repressed anger issues; pardoning or accommodating inappropriate behaviors in the SHD relationship while mimicking and displacing the bad behavior in other healthy relationships, as well.

These mental shifts are created by constant exposure to high stress situations and trigger the brain’s fight-or-flight response, a system that engages when faced with extreme anxiety, danger, dread, or tension. As a byproduct of these mental and physical changes, relatives and close friends overexposed to SHD often suffer from panic attacks, depression, stomach irritations, skin issues, obesity, sleep disorders, migraines and an entire host of other complications.  They encounter degradations in their quality-of-life and are past a “healthy” appreciation for drunken behavior. These physical and emotional deficiencies impact the alcoholic negatively also. Consequences of being exposed to more than one SHD experience transforms people around the drunk, in ways that extend further than the initial SHD effects. It is obvious that SHD’s impact can negatively affect most of us in one way or another

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