Women ending marriage to a problem drinking partner decrease their own risk for problem drinking
Article first published online: 17 APR 2012
© 2012 The Authors, Addiction © 2012 Society for the Study of Addiction
Volume 107, Issue 8, pages 1453–1461, August 2012
How to Cite
Smith, P. H., Homish, G. G., Leonard, K. E. and Cornelius, J. R. (2012), Women ending marriage to a problem drinking partner decrease their own risk for problem drinking. Addiction, 107: 1453–1461. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2012.03840.x
- Issue published online: 10 JUL 2012
- Article first published online: 17 APR 2012
- Accepted manuscript online: 9 FEB 2012 05:51PM EST
- Submitted 13 October 2011; initial review completed 28 December 2011; final version accepted 2 February 2012
Aims Marital dissolution is associated with increased risk of problematic drinking. However, marriage to a problem drinker also increases this risk, and ending this type of relationship may actually decrease risk of problematic drinking. This study tested whether women ending their marriage to a problem drinker exhibited improvements in drinking.
Design National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, a two-wave nationally representative survey of the US adult population.
Setting In-person interviews conducted in US households.
Participants Females married or living as if married at wave 1 at least 18 years of age.
Measurements Socio-demographics, drinking frequency, drinking quantity, alcohol use disorders, problem drinking, partner problem drinking and relationship dissolution.
Findings Ending marriage to a non-problem drinker predicted increased frequency of drinking [risk ratio (RR) = 1.55; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.43, 1.67], heavier drinking (RR = 1.30; 95% CI = 1.71, 1.45), more problematic drinking (RR = 2.45; 95% CI = 2.17, 2.77) and a greater likelihood of use disorder diagnosis [odds ratio (OR) = 2.2; 95% CI = 1.67, 2.91]. Ending a relationship with a problem drinker predicted less frequent drinking (RR = 0.94; 95% CI = 0.90, 0.98), less heavy drinking (RR = 0.84; 95% CI = 0.78, 0.90) and fewer alcohol-related problems (RR = 0.77; 95% CI = 0.62, 0.95).
Conclusions Ending a marriage with a husband who drinks problematically may decrease risk of alcohol-related problems among women, substantiating the need for alcohol treatments to address a problem drinking partner.