Excessive drinking to blame on your other half?

By Victoria Allen

A study has found couples influence each other’s drinking over the years as they become ‘drinking partners’, probably because they use alcohol to bond.
The scientists suggest being married to someone who opens a bottle of wine every night makes heavy drinking seem more normal and appealing. Photo / Getty Images
The scientists suggest being married to someone who opens a bottle of wine every night makes heavy drinking seem more normal and appealing. Photo / Getty Images

If you are drinking one too many glasses of wine in the evening these days, your other half might be to blame.

A study has found couples influence each other's drinking over the years.

They become 'drinking partners', probably because they use alcohol to bond and relax together, the scientists found. But this can cause partners to pick up bad habits and start drinking unhealthy amounts, reports the Daily Mail.

And while previous studies have suggested women drink more to keep up with men, the latest study found wives are just as likely to cause their husbands to drink more.

The scientists suggest being married to someone who opens a bottle of wine every night makes heavy drinking seem more normal and appealing.

With one in five thought to drink too much - putting themselves at risk of cancer and liver disease - the researchers said their findings suggest doctors trying to convince someone to cut back should target their partner as well.

The team, from Dalhousie University in Canada, asked 179 couples how often both had more than five drinks on one occasion - the equivalent of a bottle of wine each. When the researchers questioned the participants three years later, those who had a partner in the 'more than five drinks' category were also drinking more themselves by this time.

The study states: 'While trying to maintain their relationship and receive approval from their significant other, partners may become caught in a cycle of maladaptive drinking.'

Lead author Sara Bartel said: 'As people become more important to us, their influence over us increases. As partners are increasingly exposed to each other's habits, they develop a more positive attitude towards these behaviours.'

Those who mirror their partner's drinking habits may feel as if they share the same values and are well-suited to each other, the authors said.

The couples they looked at, who were mostly married or co-habiting, had been together for an average of more than seven years when first questioned, and were quizzed separately from each other.

The study, published in the journal Addictive Behaviours, found how often someone engaged in 'heavy episodic drinking' (HED) three years later was affected both by their previous drinking levels and their partner's habits.

The authors wrote 'men and women alike may shift their HED' due to pressure to conform to their partner's behaviour, a wish to be accepted or 'an increasingly positive attitude towards HED' because they've been exposed to their partner's heavy drinking.

Previous research suggests some women discourage men from drinking too much because they see it as incompatible with being a good husband or father, while others match their partner's drinking 'to bond, relax or socialise'.

- Daily Mail

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