Want to Ward Off Alcoholism? Put a Ring On It!

What if getting married could actually prevent alcohol abuse?

We all know a married person who says their husband or wife drives them crazy with their nagging. “She won’t shut up about my man cave!” Or “He keeps telling me to go to the gym!” So aggravating, right? Not so fast...

In a shocking turn of events, what seems like a downside of marriage on the surface could actually make a major difference when it comes to alcohol intake. A new study found that married people are less likely to develop a drinking problem than single people, especially for those with a family history of alcoholism.

This Is Not a Drill

 
A group of Swedish researchers set out to study more than 3 million people - the participants were made up of both married and single people. In the end, the researchers found more than 70,000 of the participants suffered from some form of alcohol dependency.

Two rings on the beachTwo of the most interesting takeaways were:

  • Compared to single men, married men had a 60 percent lower chance of developing an alcohol use disorder
  • Married women had a 71 percent lower risk of developing an alcohol use disorder than single women

“While clinicians have long been aware of the potentially important protective effects of marriage on alcohol problems, our study puts this observation on a firm scientific footing,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Kenneth Kendler, a professor of psychiatry, human and molecular genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.

Why Being Married Matters

 
While there’s no way to prove that marriage is directly responsible for this lower risk, Kendler says the findings “strongly suggest that marriage does indeed directly and substantially reduce risk for onset of alcohol use disorder.” He goes on to say that it is also "especially intriguing that this effect is largest in those at highest risk.”

How does marriage reduce the risk of problem drinking? Well, that's the million dollar question - one that Kendler's research group will continue probing for answers.

Though we'll have to wait a bit longer for concrete answers, experts believe the benefits of matrimony include:

  • A spouse discourages their significant other from drinking too much.
  • A spouse encourages their husband or wife to embrace healthier habits.
  • Having another person around wards off loneliness, which is a known trigger for alcoholism and substance abuse.

Image Source: iStock

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