It should come as no surprise that a Massachusetts divorce is linked to alcohol (ab)use. Research consistently shows that, compared to married people, divorced people drink more and in more harmful ways (e.g. binge drinking), are more likely to have a lifetime or recent alcohol use disorder (AUD) diagnosis, engage in more alcohol-related risky behaviors, and have higher alcohol-related mortality.
Past studies have found some evidence that this link might be causal, such that alcohol abuse increases the risk of subsequent divorce. Now a recent study strengthens the evidence that link might be causal in the other direction, too: Divorce increases the risk for subsequent alcohol abuse.
Additional analyses showed that divorce increased the risk for an AUD relapse among those who had already had an AUD prior to marriage, and that remarriage had a protective effect, leading to lower risk of AUD compared to those who remained divorced.
An increased risk for AUD onset began a few years prior to the divorce, consistent with marital dissolution reflecting a longer process rather than just a single event.
But in both sexes and across age groups, the risk for AUD increased substantially in the year of the divorce and remained elevated for many years in those who did not remarry.
According to the studies’ authors, what explains the link between divorce and alcohol is not so much the stress of the divorce. Instead, it is the loss of the protective powers of marriage, like spouses regulating each other’s alcohol consumption and encouraging healthy, stable lives. The protective effects of marriage on health have been established in other areas too, like smoking and exercise.
If you, or a loved one, are thinking about divorcing, schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation with family law attorney Renee Lazar to discuss your legal options.
Call the Law Offices of Renee Lazar today to find out how we can help you at 978-844-4095.