Predictors of Heavy Drinking and Drinking Problems Over the First 4 Years of Marriage


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Abstract

This study investigated the factors predictive of heavy drinking and drinking problems over the early years of marriage, focusing on premarital drinking and the relatively stable individual risk and protective factors that were present prior to marriage and on social–interpersonal factors that may change or emerge over marriage. Newlywed couples were assessed at the time of marriage and at the 1st, 2nd, and 4th anniversaries with respect to frequency of heavy drinking and the extent of drinking problems and a variety of factors that have been found to be predictive of adult alcohol problems. The results indicated that antisocial characteristics, family history of alcoholism, negative affect, and alcohol expectancies were related to heavy drinking and alcohol problems at the time of marriage. Changes after marriage were predicted by the drinking of one's partner and of one's peers and by alcohol expectancies for social/physical pleasure for both men and women. In addition, the quality of the marriage was longitudinally protective from the experience of alcohol problems for both men and women, although it was not related to changes in heavy drinking.

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