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“Your drinking is my problem”: recording alcohol’s harm to others in Nigeria

IS Obot
E-U Nelson
OO Umoh
NF Essien
EA Okediji
E Udoh
J Effiong


The negative consequences of alcohol consumption on the drinker are well documented. Alcohol is the cause of many physical and mental health conditions and is associated with social problems affecting the drinker, the family and the society at-large. Nondrinkers also experience the impact of other people’s drinking though the extent of this experience is not well documented. This paper presents preliminary data from the WHO/Thai Health project on the harm to others from drinking. A sample of 16 health, security and social welfare agencies in Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria was selected and a nominated key informant in each agency was approached for information using a qualitative interview schedule. The information sought from respondents included types of harms to others seen at the agency, the frequency of such cases, how information about the cases are recorded and handled, and whether regular records are kept at the agency on harm to others from alcohol. Findings show that few agencies collected data on harm to others from drinking but several reported seeing people affected by the drinking of others, with most cases reported by social welfare agencies. Almost all the agencies contacted expressed interest in collecting relevant data and being involved more in addressing the problem. The reported low levels of awareness and action on harm to others from drinking have potentially serious implications in a society with a rapidly growing rate of alcohol consumption.

Key words: Alcohol, harm to others, Nigeria, drinking problems