Can Jealousy Turn You Into an Alcoholic?

By May Wilkerson 07/22/15

Researchers found that many people would turn to alcohol to cope with jealousy.

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Here’s another reason to stop snooping through your partner’s text messages: extreme jealousy in a relationship could put you at a higher risk of alcoholism, a new study finds.

After examining the drinking patterns and romantic relationships of 277 people, researchers at the University of Houston found that those experiencing jealousy were more likely to be problem drinkers. However, the correlation only occurred when the jealousy stemmed from being in an unhappy relationship and having one’s sense of self-worth hinged on the other person.

The participants in the study, 87% of whom were women, were asked to fill out questionnaires about their level of satisfaction while in a relationship, their level of self-esteem, alcohol use, and jealousy.

Researchers found that, when experiencing jealousy, many people would turn to alcohol to cope. But this pattern was especially pronounced among those who were in “low-quality” relationships, where they felt less satisfied, less committed, or disconnected from their partners.

“Romantic jealousy is a shared human experience, but very little work has looked at how it is related to alcohol use, misuse and associated problems,” said lead author Dr. Angelo DiBello, of the University of Houston. “This research helps to highlight the associations between these factors and show how our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors are related in potentially harmful ways.”

Scientists hope that these findings could offer more insight into how relationships can impact self-esteem and could help identify alcoholism more quickly.

“Ultimately, I hope to use findings like these to support the development of prevention and intervention efforts among individuals who may struggle with alcohol, self-esteem and relationship issues,” said DiBello.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.