SATURDAY, Aug. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Can marriage -- or divorce -- drive people to drink?
A new study suggests the answer depends a great deal on gender: Marriage appears to lead to more drinking among middle-aged women, while divorce seems to drive middle-aged men to the bottle.
The research looked at people in general, and not everyone will follow the pattern. Still, the findings suggest that "marriage and divorce have different consequences for men's and women's alcohol use," said study author Corinne Reczek, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati. "For men, it's tempered by being married and exacerbated by being divorced."
Researchers already know that men drink more than women, but women have been catching up in recent years, Reczek said. It also appears that men slow down their drinking when they're married, especially for the first time, she said.
But what about later in life and when marriages end, especially due to divorce? That's where the new study comes in.
Reczek and colleagues examined the results of U.S. surveys conducted in 1993 and 2004. They looked at just over 5,300 people (who were aged 53 and 54 in 1993) and tracked them over time. In addition, they interviewed 130 people directly.
"We find that unmarried and divorced women actually drink less than their continuously married counterparts," she said. "For men, those who were recently divorced have the highest number of drinks and men who are married have the lower number."
For women, the average number of drinks per month was nine for those who were married and 6.5 for those who were divorced over that time; for men, the numbers were 19.2 and 21.5, respectively. For those who got divorced during that period, the average monthly number of drinks per month was 10 for women and 26 for men.
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