Alcohol use and divorced families

A recent study published in the Psychology of Addictive Behaviors journal focused on alcohol use among adolescents who had been through parental divorce or separation. This study found that adolescents with divorced parents tended to begin drinking alcohol at a younger age than children whose parents remained together. Children of divorced parents were also more likely to engage in problem or binge drinking. External factors such as socioeconomic status and family history were controlled for in the sample of almost one thousand middle school students.

The effect of increased alcohol use was “magnified at higher levels of parental drinking,” meaning that parents who drink higher than average amounts of alcohol during a separation may pass on these habits to their children. Authors K.M. Jackson and M.L. Rogers advocate for further research to focus on the underlying causal link between this correlation, but suggest that stress and coping mechanisms can lead adolescents to turn to alcohol.

Jackson, K.M., Rogers, M.L. & Sartor, C.E. (2016). Parental divorce and initiation of alcohol use in early adolescence. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 30 (4), 450-461