Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Philadelphia Family Lawyer > Blog > Divorce > Study Indicates Heavy Drinking Factor In Divorce

Study Indicates Heavy Drinking Factor In Divorce


A recent study conducted over nine years measured the divorce rates among 634 couples. According to the study, couples who had two heavy drinkers did okay. Couples with no heavy drinkers did okay. Couples with one heavy drinker and one non-heavy drinker, however, managed to split at a rate of 50%. While that may seem like a coin flip, statistically, it is higher than the average divorce rate in the country right now, despite what you may have heard. It was also higher than the rest of the other couples who were surveyed in the study.

To be sure, “heavy drinking” for those who work in clinical psychology and heavy drinking for your average American may have two very distinct definitions. In this case, anyone who drank until they got drunk was considered a “heavy drinker”. In marriages where one spouse was a heavy drinker and the other one was not, couples split at a rate of 50%. In all other marriages, the divorce rate among couples was 30%.

More drinking studies 

Interestingly, a Norwegian study on drinking and divorce came to another conclusion. In the Norwegian study, divorces were more likely when the wife was a heavy drinker than when the husband was a heavy drinker. Another study conducted in 2010 did not focus merely on alcohol but all “externalizing psychopathologies” including alcohol abuse and dependence. Externalizing psychopathology includes a range of “co-occurring” conditions that include substance abuse disorders, gambling addiction, sex addiction, and more. However, no externalizing psychopathology has been studied more than alcohol abuse.

Alcohol abuse (albeit, not getting drunk once a week to blow off steam) is associated with higher rates of marital distress, maladaptive marital communication, and domestic violence. Hence, it would seem that heavy alcohol use is a risk factor for divorce. Other externalizing disorders include interpersonal animosity that erupts into major fights.

Will heavy drinking impact your marriage? 

Drinking or drug use habits are often brought into divorce cases. They’re used to prevent one parent from gaining custody of the children or as a basis for the breakdown of the marriage. We also know that divorce makes symptoms of alcoholism worse because it is a major stress factor for all parties involved.

When the marriage breaks down to the extent that one party is no longer providing the material or emotional support that the family needs, then drinking has become more important than the marriage. Ultimately, if your spouse is a heavy drinker and you aren’t, the decision to divorce may depend on what sorts of contributions the heavy drinker is making to the marriage and whether or not it is interfering with the child-rearing or their spouse’s happiness.

Talk to a Philadelphia Divorce Attorney Today 

If you are considering divorce, call a Philadelphia divorce lawyer at the Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane today at 215-918-9453 to discuss your situation and begin preparing for the future.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn