Study: Divorce Increases Risk of Alcoholism

  • Previous studies have examined alcohol use disorder and divorce and separation among couples.
  • Recent research has found other correlative patterns involving alcohol use disorder and divorce and separation.
  • There are other therapeutic methods of dealing with divorce or separation than turning to alcohol.

After going through the arduous experience of a divorce, no one would fault someone for wanting to unwind and relax with the beverage of their choice.

However, it is important to understand the risks that people who go through the divorce process face before they open that can or pour that bottle.

A recent study was highlighted in the American Journal of Psychiatry and Forbes magazine, detailing how the link between divorce and alcohol abuse may be causal in other directions, than the notion that alcohol abuse increases the risk of subsequent divorce.

Social Science and Medicine Journal study

The most recent study is an interesting examination in comparison to previous research. A previous study, published in the Social Science and Medicine Journal, assessed the association between alcohol consumption and separation and divorce for 4589 married couples. The researchers found that drinking status was positively correlated between spouses and that the correlation did not increase over the follow-up period.

They also found that any discrepancies in alcohol consumption between spouses were more closely related to the probability of subsequent divorce than consumption levels and that couples with two spouses that abstain from drinking, as well as couples with two heavy drinkers, had the lowest rates of divorce.

Subsequently, couples with one heavy drinker were more likely to divorce and that a history of problematic drinking by either spouse was not significantly associated with an increased probability of divorce.

Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs study

Another previous study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, examined the association among alcohol use disorder (AUD), stressful life events, and marital dissolution in adults.

They found that AUD and stressful life events predicted subsequent marital dissolution independently of other substance use disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, and personality disorders.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Most recent study

The most recent study, done by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University and Lund University in Sweden, was done to clarify the magnitude and nature of the relationship between getting a divorce and being at risk for AUD.

The most recent study was based on an analysis of approximately 950,000 Swedes born between the years, 1960 and 1990, who had gotten married in or after 1990, as well as had no AUD diagnosis before getting married.

They found that after a divorce, the rates of first-time AUD increased sixfold in men and over sevenfold in women. These numbers took into account various factors, such as low parental education, prior problematic behavior, and familial risk of AUD.

The results showed that the increased risk for AUD onset began a few years before the divorce and was consistent with the holistic experience of the end of a marriage. However, the risk for AUD increased dramatically in the year of the divorce and remained elevated for many years in those who did not remarry for both sexes and across various age groups.

Speaking of remarriage, tying the knot once again had a protective effect for those at risk for alcohol abuse. According to the study, the risk for AUD was lowered when a divorced individual remarried. For many, the new marriage and the new life that that entails was enough to prevent their alcohol consumption from becoming a problematic behavior.

The researchers also examined AUD onset among twins, cousins, and siblings and found that the more closely genetically related people were, the weaker the relationship between divorce and AUD onset was, which means that at least part of the relationship between alcohol and divorce was due to familial factors causing both issues.

The research also found that divorce increased the risk for an AUD relapse for those who had previously battled alcoholism and that divorce produced a greater increase in first AUD onset in those with a family history of AUD or with previous problematic behaviors involving alcohol, or in those whose spouses did not have AUD themselves.

Finding other means of therapy

These studies indicate that those that battle the stress of divorce can often find themselves taking it out on their own body. They are looking to numb the pain of the experience with a common vice, and in moderation, alcohol consumption is perfectly fine and even found to be healthy by several studies.

However, overconsumption and binge-drinking can create problems and put others in danger in certain scenarios. The pain of losing a spouse or custody of children is understandable, but venting to a bottle is a one-sided conversation. Seeking other means of therapeutic healing can cost just as much as running up a bar tab or a run to the liquor store, but it has the ability to manifest positive change for yourself, your children, and your future moving forward.

End of Content Icon

Leave a Reply