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Wife influences husband's marijuana use - study

Willi_with_his_wife_AandreaWASHINGTON, July 20, 2005  (Reuters) - A newlywed wife can help determine whether her husband smokes marijuana, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

The researchers found that when people in their 20s first marry, husbands are more likely to start or resume smoking marijuana if their wives smoke it, and are more likely to stop smoking marijuana if their spouses do not smoke.

But husbands had little influence on whether their wives used marijuana, the team at the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions found.

"For both social drinking and smoking marijuana, wives influence husbands' use from the first to second anniversary," said Kenneth Leonard, who led the study.

"Although wives influence husbands' marijuana use from before marriage to the first anniversary, they did not influence husbands' heavy alcohol use during that period."

Writing in the Journal of Drug Issues, the researchers said they studied 634 couples, 471 of whom provided data before marriage, at their first anniversary and at their second anniversary. They were in their late 20s on average.

"In this study, we found that the prevalence of marijuana use decreased for both men and women over the first year of marriage," Leonard said.

"For men, use decreased from about 25 percent to 21 percent from the year before marriage through the first year of marriage, and for women over the same period, from 20 percent to 14 percent."

Smokers were often married to other smokers.

"We identified one direction of influence, that is, wives influenced their husbands' initiation of marijuana use, but husbands did not influence wives' use," Leonard said.

The first year of marriage may be a unique time for setting the ground rules for a relationship, Leonard said, citing other studies.

"Substance use tends to decline as individuals progress through their 20s," he said.

"This may be a part of the maturing process, but it also reflects periods of transition in life, such as marriage with its increased responsibilities."