Background: Although associations between drinking behavior and marital status are well documented, timing of marital transitions as a function of alcohol use or disorder has received limited empirical attention. Methods: We examine the relationship between lifetime history of alcohol dependence (AD) and timing and survival of first marriages in a sample of 3,575 female and 1,845 male adult Australian twins born mostly between 1940 and 1964. Survival analyses were conducted using Cox proportional hazards regression models. Results: Results indicate moderate delays in marriage associated with AD for both women and men. Among ever-married respondents, AD was strongly predictive of early separation, with similar effects observed for women and men. Heritable sources of covariation were also documented. For women, genetic influences shared between early-onset AD and marital timing were found. Genetic influences shared between AD and marital survival were observed for women without regard to onset and for men with later-onset AD. Conclusions: Results confirm the importance of AD as a predictor of both timing and survival of first marriages, with genetic influences contributing to observed associations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)632-642
Number of pages11
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Alcohol Dependence
  • Genetic Risks
  • Marital Onset
  • Marital Survival


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