It's not clear if alcoholism has the same impact on women. However, "the effects may be even stronger on women, because alcoholic women have a high tendency to marry alcoholic men," study co-author Anne Buu, a research investigator of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, noted in a statement. The involvement of both partners with alcohol abuse could speed up any downward social drift, she said.
Recovering alcoholics, however, weren't any more likely than non-alcoholics to live in disadvantaged neighborhoods. That suggests that "if you do have problems, and you're able to stick with [recovery], you won't be at any greater risk for this downward drift into bad neighborhoods," Trim said.
The findings weren't a big surprise, said Aaron White, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Duke University who studies alcohol use.
"Every now and then, a study will come out that confirms something that most of us know intuitively," said White. There's "no question that alcoholism affects quality of life. The data in this study point to one of the ways that alcohol affects quality of life -- by influencing the type of neighborhood a person lives in."
The study is also useful "from the standpoint that the data confirm what most of us would have suspected anyway," he said. It's "not groundbreaking by any stretch of the imagination but a worthwhile contribution to the knowledge base."
And there's good news: The study provides "additional evidence that sobering up is good for people with alcohol problems," White said.
Learn more about alcohol use from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
SOURCES: Ryan Trim, Ph.D., research psychologist, VA San Diego Health Care System; Aaron White, Ph.D., assistant professor, psychiatry, Duke University, Dur
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