Alcohol Use Tied to Later Marriage, Earlier Separation

Genes may influence links between alcohol use and later, shorter marriages

THURSDAY, Feb. 10 (HealthDay News) -- A history of alcohol dependence is associated with getting married later in life and having a marriage that ends earlier, according to a study published online Jan. 18 in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Mary Waldron, Ph.D., of Indiana University in Bloomington, and colleagues investigated the association between the timing of marital transitions and alcohol use. They examined the relationship between lifetime history of alcohol dependence and the timing and survival of first marriages in a sample of 3,575 female and 1,845 male twins born mostly between 1940 and 1964.

Researchers found that alcohol dependence was strongly predictive of early separation, and moderately associated with delays in marriage, in both men and women. In women, genetic influences shared between early-onset alcohol dependence and marital timing were found. Genes appeared to influence marital survival in women no matter when they developed alcohol dependence; in men, this link was apparent only in later-onset alcohol dependence.

"Results confirm the importance of alcohol dependence as a moderate-to-strong predictor of both marital delay and early separation, with genetic influences contributing to observed relationships," the authors write.

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