Marriage and Maturing Out of Drinking (Heavy)

Maturing out of drinking by college students after they have graduate? That has been shown for many decades.1 Assuming demanding adult causes graduates to reduce their former drinking patterns. That’s in order to perform their new roles. In other words, role conflict leads to the change.2,3

Maturing out of heavy drinkingIt would appear that entering into marriage would lead to lower drinking rates among young adults. Heavier drinking patterns would generally be seen as conflicting with the demands of marital roles. Thus, marriage could be expected to promote maturing out of heavy drinking patterns.

An Investigation

Researchers studied how drinking behaviors were changed by marriage. To do so, they looked at data from 844 participants in a continuing study of family alcoholism. Their interest was the changes in people’s drinking between the ages of 18 and 40. Fifty-one percent of the participants were children of alcoholics.

The study found that marriage led to a reduction in heavy drinking in general. It also found that the reduction was much greater for those who had severe drinking problems before they got married.

The role of marriage in maturing out of drinking may help explain the natural recovery process. This commonly occurs among alcoholics.

Marriage and Maturing Out of Drinking


Readings on Role Conflict

1 Fillmore, K. Alcohol Use Across the Life Course. Toronto: Addict Res Found.

2 Bachman, J., et al. The Decline of Substance Use in Young Adulthood. Changes in Social Activities, Roles, and Beliefs. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

3  Yamaguchi, K., and Kandel, D. On the resolution of role incompatibility. Life event history analysis of family roles and marijuana use. Am J Soc, 198(90), 1284-325.