There has been quite a lot of research into the problems experienced by the spouses of people with drug problems among younger and middle-aged groups but much less on how a partner's drink problem affects older people. A team of researchers from Stanford University in California studied 167 people with an average age of 59.6. They fell into three groups; one group had partners who had never had a drinking problem, one group had partners who had had a drinking problem but had managed to get over it over the course of the 10-year study and the third group had partners who had a drink problem at the start and end of the study. At the start of the study the people whose partners had drink problems drank more themselves, had poorer health, were more depressed and had worse social lives than those whose partners did not drink. The spouses whose partners managed to give up drinking over the course of the study became comparable to the partners of non-drinkers by the end. However, the spouses of people who continued drinking heavily drank more, suffered more as a result of their drinking and had friends who approved more of drinking.
Moos, Rudolf H. ... [et al] - Spouses of older adults with late-life drinking problems: health, family and social functioning Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs July 2010, 71(4), 506-514