Separation or divorce is not an easy phase to handle. It has the potential to trigger stress, tension and anxiety, which can further deteriorate mental health by causing a number of psychiatric diseases. During such testing times, people usually fall prey to substance abuse, particularly drinking, to alleviate stress, anxiety, etc., as well as experience euphoric effects.
Alcohol addiction is a serious problem in the United States, with most Americans directly or indirectly affected by the prevalence of this worldwide phenomenon. Given that alcohol is easily available everywhere, there are increased chances of abusing it as well as other substances in circumstances as trying as separation.
Individuals can succumb to alcohol abuse and addiction in a myriad ways. However, various research findings over the years suggest a strong association between marital status and risk of alcohol use disorder (AUD). One particular study, which was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry (AJP) in Advance, concluded that married people are significantly less likely to develop AUD than unmarried people.
Causal relationship between divorce and AUD
The above study led by Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D., Virginia Commonwealth University, examined a sample of 942,366 married individuals to examine the association between divorce or widowhood and the risk for developing AUD. The prevalence of AUD was ascertained by using medical, criminal and pharmacy registries and controlled factors, such as age, education and family history of alcohol use.
In addition, divorce was found to be associated with the recurrence of AUD in those with the problem before marriage. The other findings of the research are as follows:
- Divorce was strongly associated with the risk for first AUD onset in both men and women.
- Widowhood increased the risk for AUD in men and women.
- Among divorced individuals, remarriage was associated with a large decline in AUD in both men and women.
- The risk of the onset of AUD was found higher in individuals with a family history of AUD and among those who had prior externalizing behaviors, such as conduct disorder (CD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), etc.
The study concluded that spousal loss through bereavement or divorce was largely associated with the increased AUD onset risk. Additionally, it suggests that the AUD status of the spouse can greatly affect the changes in characteristics of his or her behavioral health.
According to the authors, “These results suggest that it is not only the state of matrimony and the associated social roles that are protective against AUD. Rather, they are consistent with the importance of direct spousal interactions in which one individual monitors and tries to control his or her spouse’s drinking. A non-AUD spouse is likely to be much more effective at such control than a spouse with AUD.”
Furthermore, researchers of the above study endorse the fact that the protective effect of both first marriage and remarriage can reduce problematic alcohol use, which can assist in clinical screening for AUD among divorcees and widowed individuals and reduce their risk of AUD onset.
How to quit alcohol
Alcohol is the most commonly available and abused drug in the U.S. The consequences of excessive alcohol consumption can be detrimental for both physical and mental health in the long run. Individuals who abuse alcohol also stand an increased risk of developing the problem of AUD that can get aggravated with time and frequent indulgence. Although medical intervention can manage or cure alcoholism, it is important to undergo the process of detoxification to derive the best results from the treatment.
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