A University of Virginia study indicates that, people who are married, or cohabitating, generally tend to drink less both in amount and frequency, while singles are more inclined to drink more often, and in larger quantities.
The lead author of the study, Diana Dinescu, said that, "Intimate relationships cause a decline in alcohol consumption" is the gist of the finding. The study which has been published in the Journal of Family Psychology, includes comparison of the reported drinking patterns of twins in and out of relationships.
Dinescu and her colleagues examined the behaviors of 2,425 same-sex twin pairs to see if these findings held up among people who share genetic and familial backgrounds.
"It is impossible to tell from co-relational research whether marital status has a protective effect, or whether people who naturally drink less simply are more likely to get married," Dinescu said.
"By using twins, our study allows us to eliminate entire classes of alternative explanations, such as genetic predispositions and upbringing influences, and brings us a step closer to understanding the true impact of relationships on drinking behavior," she added.
The researchers culled their data from the Washington State Twin Registry. It is a database of twins who participate in health and behavior research. Their sample included 1,618 female pairs and 807 male pairs.
"It is useful to look at drinking frequency and quantity separately, as we believe they are fundamentally different behaviors in both intention and venue," Dinescu said.
"Our data revealed an interesting pattern where, once you're in a committed relationship, your drinking frequency declines permanently, whereas quantity goes back up if you exit that relationship."
"It seems that intimate relationships may provide a real benefit in terms of drinking behavior, maybe through mechanisms such as a monitoring effect that partners have on each other," she added.
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