Binge Drinking as Contagious as the Common Cold

Released: 16-Dec-2011 2:30 PM EST
Source Newsroom: Dalhousie University
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Newswise — Do couples influence each other's drinking habits? Over a 28 day time frame, researchers were able to predict one partner’s binge drinking based the other partner’s binge drinking.

The research studied 208 nonmarried, heterosexual dating couples in their early 20’s. Each couple had to be dating for at least 3 months, have face-to-face contact at least 5 days a week, and one member of each dating couple had to be a university/college student. On average, couples were dating for close to 2 years.

This study offers a unique explanation for why young adults are binge drinking: Because they are involved in a drinking partnership that promotes binge drinking.

“In some respect this is a cautionary piece of research. Pick your friends and lovers carefully because they influence you more than you think,” says Dr. Simon Sherry, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, N.S.

“We’re not so naive as researchers to think students are going to walk away from binge drinking. But our study shows there’s a large majority of students who form romantic partnerships where alcohol is a regularly occurring theme."

While the study answers some key questions, it also raises some questions: do birds of a feather all flock together? Do heavy drinkers naturally gravitate towards each other? Does each partner have a family history of alcoholism? These are questions researchers don’t yet know the answers to.


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