Current research on why marriages fail finds a powerful link between alcoholism and divorce.
Alison Clarke-Stewart, professor of psychology at the University of California – Irvine, and Cornelia Brentano, assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University, report in their book Divorce: Causes and Consequences (Yale University Press, 2006) on numerous studies that confirm “people who drink more are more likely to divorce.”
The authors note that people who are divorced consume the highest levels of alcohol, and the lowest levels of alcohol consumption are found in those who are married. They add that while alcoholics are just as likely to get married as non-alcoholics, their divorce or separation rate is at least four times that of the general population.
To further emphasize the connection between alcoholism and divorce, Clarke-Stewart and Brentano also cited a study involving eight different countries where those with the highest alcohol consumption rate also had the highest rates of divorce.
Finally, they wrote that while heavy drinking tends to decline overall as people they get older, substance abuse in alcoholics actually increases with age.
A 2007 study by researchers at the non-profit Rand Corporation looked at the impact of divorce rates in young adults and found that more than any other factor, a high frequency of heavy drinking in marriages when partners are in their early 20s is the primary cause if divorce occurred by age 29.
The study noted a strong correlation between alcohol abuse and domestic violence, legal and financial problems, job loss, and sexual dysfunction.
While alcoholism and divorce may appear to go hand-in-hand, ending the marriage is not necessarily the only option in dealing effectively and appropriately with an alcoholic spouse – if that individual is truly willing to seek help.
At the same time, family members of an alcoholic should not ignore their own needs and struggles. Organizations such as Al-Anon and Alateen have been providing help to family members of alcoholics for more than 50 years.
If the alcoholic refuses to seek help and is creating a home environment where an abusive situation exists or has the potential to occur, it is important for the alcoholic’s partner and children to get out of that atmosphere as soon as possible.
Take the Fisher Divorce Adjustment Scale at www.DivorceSeminarCenter.com