In Secondhand Drinking, Alcohol Misuse


You may recall Budweiser’s Drink Responsibly PSA, “Friends are Waiting.” It launched in 2014 in honor of Anheuser-Busch’s fifth annual Global Be(er) Responsible Day and to date has had more than 22 million views on YouTube.

It’s objective was to drive home the very important message, “don’t drink and drive,” because “friends are waiting,” and leave viewers with the conclusion that not drinking and driving is drinking responsibly.

Budweiser does a terrific job of capturing viewers’ heartstrings by sharing the deep bond and love that Luke and his adorable lab, Cooper, developed over the course of Cooper’s puppyhood to the devoted furry friend we see in the concluding seconds overjoyed with his master’s return.

But to the message of Luke’s behavior as an example of “drinking responsibly?” It is and it isn’t.

Expanding the “Drink Responsibly” Message to Include, “Don’t Cause Secondhand Drinking”

What if the devoted Cooper had been a spouse, child or parent?

Replace Cooper’s whimpers, looking towards the window when car lights approach and forlornly laying down to wait, with a spouse watching the clock, repeatedly texting, “where are you?,” calling Luke’s friends to see if they know where he is and calling local hospitals to see if Luke’s been admitted having been in a car accident. And what if Luke and his wife had children and her angst was in turn affecting them: “Mommy, where’s Daddy?” or “Mommy, what’s wrong?” or “Mommy, you seem sad,” to which Mommy tersely responds, “Nothing, now go to bed!”

That’s what secondhand drinking is all about – coping with a person’s drinking behaviors. Drinking behaviors occur when the ethyl alcohol chemical in alcoholic beverages changes how a person’s brain works. Drinking behaviors include verbal, physical, emotional abuse; neglect; driving while impaired; physical assault, to name a few.

In the spouse scenario, Luke’s drinking behaviors included his “decision” to stay out all night without calling and not responding to her texts. Drinking responsibly would have involved Luke having a conversation with his spouse before going out or calling when he’s thinking of drinking beer #2 or #3 to say he’ll be staying the night.

In the Budweiser PSA scenario, Luke’s drinking behavior includes worrying his beloved Cooper all night. Drinking responsibly would have involved Luke making arrangements for Cooper’s care before going out with his friends for a social night of drinking.

Drinking Responsibly Prevents Secondhand Drinking Impacts in the Workplace

Employees Experiencing Secondhand Drinking - the negative impacts of a person's drinking behaviors - can impose costs in the workplace.

Employees Experiencing Secondhand Drinking – the negative impacts of a person’s drinking behaviors on others – can impose significant workplace costs to companies & public agencies.

Carrying the above example further, Luke’s spouse will likely have a difficult time focusing at work the next morning. Lack of sleep, residual anger over her angst and worry, likely an argument with Luke upon his early morning return will leave her distracted at work. If she’s on a deadline, she may delay the project. Or, she may have called in to say she’d be late. When she shows up, she may be experiencing a pounding headache (a common outcome of worry and stress, such as the stress related to coping with SHD). She may snap at fellow employees or use work time to call Luke and continue the fight.

Helping employees understand SHD and SHD prevention – whether they are the cause or the one coping with it – can go a long way to improving employee health and workplace culture and to reducing a company | public agency’s SHD-related costs.

Bottom line:

Drinking responsibly is not about not drinking. It’s about not causing secondhand drinking.

Lisa Frederiksen
Lisa Frederiksen has a 39-year career in executive management, consulting, speaking, training and writing and is the founder of and SHD Prevention. She has spent more than 14 years studying 21st century brain research in order to write, speak, and consult on substance use disorders prevention, intervention and treatment; mental disorders; addiction (aka substance use disorders) as a brain disease; adolescent addiction treatment vs adult addiction treatment; effective treatment for co-occurring disorders (having both a substance use and mental disorder); secondhand drinking | drugging; help for the family; and related subjects. Lisa is the author of hundreds of articles and eleven books, including, "Addiction Recovery: What Helps, What Doesn't," "Secondhand Drinking: The Phenomenon That Affects Millions," and “If You Loved Me, You’d Stop!” She is a national keynote speaker with over 25 years speaking experience, consultant, trainer, and frequent guest on radio, TV, and Internet radio shows.
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