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Troubled Relationships

Alcoholics Get Married Later – More Likely to Get Divorced

Dreaming of that white wedding? Well, be careful with your drinking, because not only do problem drinkers get married later in life, they’re also more likely to have relationships that run into trouble - in fact, alcoholics are twice as likely as non problem drinkers to get divorced.

To find out how heavy drinking affects marital happiness; Indiana University researchers followed 5000 twins from the 1980s onward. They looked at alcohol use patterns and age of initiation of problem drinking (when applicable) and compared this data to age at marriage and to later marital difficulties and marriage termination. The study subjects (all twins) ranged in age from 28 to 92 by the end of the study period.

The Study Results

After sifting through the study data, the researchers conclude that:

  • Early drinking is a risk factor for later in life alcohol dependence
  • Problem drinkers get married later in life
  • Problem drinkers are more likely to get divorced and at an earlier age. Alcoholics are twice as likely to have a marriage separation as non alcoholics and this is true for both men and women
  • Genetics did play a role in increasing a person’s likelihood for alcohol problems

Mary Waldron, of the Indiana School of Education participated in the study commented with sage advice for the still unmarried, saying, "Young adults who drink alcohol may want to consider the longer-term consequences for marriage. If drinking continues or increases to levels of problem use, likelihood of marriage, or of having a lasting marriage, may decrease." 

The full study results are available in the April edition of the journal, Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

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