The Role of Substance Use in Young Adult Divorce

Published in: Addiction, v. 102, no. 5, May 2007, p. 786-794

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2007

by Rebecca L. Collins, Phyllis L. Ellickson, David J. Klein

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AIM: To test the relationships between various forms of substance use during marriage and subsequent divorce among US young adults. DESIGN: Three waves of survey data collected at approximately ages 18, 23 and 29 years were used. Using multivariate logistic regression and controlling for factors present at the two early waves, the authors tested for prospective relationships between substance use at the second assessment and divorce by the third. PARTICIPANTS: A longitudinal panel following adolescents on the west coast of the United States into young adulthood. The analytic subsample consisted of the 454 individuals currently married at the age 23 survey. MEASUREMENTS: Predictors were past-year frequency of alcohol intoxication, marijuana use and cigarette use, as well as any hard drug use in the past year. Covariates included substance use prior to marriage, demographic and socio-economic factors, marital discord and religiosity. FINDINGS: Controlling for other factors, more frequent alcohol intoxication during marriage was an independent predictor of later divorce. Frequency of marijuana use had a significant bivariate relationship with divorce that was not significant in the multivariate model. CONCLUSION: These data are consistent with the notion that alcohol intoxication is related causally to divorce among young adults.

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