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Spouses with uncontrolled drinking problems strongly influence each other (2018-02-26)

One spouse experiencing the alcohol use disorder strongly influences the otherís risk to have the same problem.
Spouses with uncontrolled drinking problems have a rapid big influence on their partner.

James Ensor - The Drunkards

Population-wide Swedish registries were used to identify individuals born in Sweden between 1960 and 1990 who were married before the end of study follow-up on December 31, 2013.

The study included 8562 marital pairs with no history of alcohol use disorder registration prior to their first marriage and an alcohol use disorder registration in 1 spouse during marriage and 4891 individuals with multiple marriages whose first spouse had no alcohol use disorder registration and second spouse did or vice versa.

Final statistical analyses were conducted from August 15 to September 1, 2017.

After a husband was first diagnosed with alcohol use disorder, his wifeís risk of a similar diagnosis immediately rose 14-fold compared to women whose husbands did not have that diagnosis, researchers found.

But then her risk fell during the next couple of years to about four-fold.
Similarly, husbandsí risk shot up nine-fold after a wifeís diagnosis, then declined to about three-fold.

Itís long been known that spouses tend to resemble each other in alcohol consumption and abuse, but it hasnít been clear whether thatís because people with similar habits seek each other out, or because partners exert a strong influence on one another.

When the researchers looked at whether people had alcohol use disorders before their first marriage, and what happened in second and third marriages, they found that one spouse experiencing the disorder strongly influences the otherís current risk.

However, after a first marriage to a spouse without an alcohol use disorder, individuals who married a partner with the disorder raised their own risk seven- to nine-fold.

A similar, but weaker risk increase was seen in third marriages with these combinations.

Past research among twins and children of alcoholics has shown that genetic factors do influence alcoholism, they add.

The current study indicates, though, that alcohol use disorders shared by married couples are not just a result of people seeking out mates who are similar to them in this regard, the authors write.

For more information
JAMA Psychiatry
The Origin of Spousal Resemblance for Alcohol Use Disorder