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Married Women Drink More Alcohol Than Married Men


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By Margarita Nahapetyan

According to the findings of a recent study, married women may find themselves drinking a lot more alcohol than single or divorced women, while married men tend to moderate their intake of drink.

The research suggests that the reason marriage may drive a woman to drink, is not because she is unhappy in her relationship, but because she can be influenced by her husband's alcohol consumption. In their past studies, the experts have analyzed differences in drinking between single and married individuals, but this new research appears to be the first to concentrate on alcohol consumption among different types of unmarried people: the ones that have never been married, the divorced and the widowed.

According to Corinne Reczek, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati, who authored the study, it is a known fact that males consume more alcohol when compared to females, but women have been catching up in recent years. Reczek added that it also appears that men tend to curb their drinking habits after tying the knot, especially for the first time. But what about later in life and in case when marriage ends, especially due to divorce? This is what Reczek and a team of sociologists from the University of Cincinnati, Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University and the University of Texas at Austin, set to find out in their research.

The team examined the results of U.S. surveys which were carried out back in 1993 and 2004. They looked at more than 5,300 individuals with the ages between 53 and 54 years in 1993, and tracked them over time. In addition, the investigators conducted qualitative in-depth interviews with 130 never-married, married, divorced and widowed men and women. The participants were asked to report how many alcoholic beverages they drank on a monthly basis and whether there was a history of drinking problems in their families.

For married ladies, the average number of drinks per month was about 10 versus 6.5 for the divorced women over that period of time; for men, the numbers were 19.2 for married and about 26 for the divorced. So what does it mean? The majority of women interviewed said that they started to consume more alcohol during marriage because their husbands drank, and some reported enjoying drinking together as a couple.

On average, men drink more than women and this statistic plays out during marriage and after divorce. In spite of the fact that male participants still reported drinking more than women during every life stage, most of the married men described three major reasons why their drinking decreased during marriage: they hung out less with their drinking pals; their wives did not drink as much as they did; and their wives tried to limit their alcohol intake.

When it came to the divorced men, 75 per cent of those in the study said that the stress and pain associated with the breakup made them to drink. On the contrary, about same number of the divorced women in the study reported drinking less after marriage dissolution because they coped through depression rather than alcohol, and also because they were no longer influenced by the drinking of an ex-husband. For most women alcohol was absent from their discussions of divorce, in fact, they tried to abstain from both food and drinking and concentrated more on the weight loss and changes in diet.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Denver, Colorado.

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