Psychology, Department of



Frances C. Calkins

Date of this Version



Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 37:5 (May 2020), pp. 1389–1404.

doi: 10.1177/ 0265407519898257


Copyright © 2020 Frances C. Calkins and Rebecca L. Brock. Published by SAGE. Used by permission.


The primary goal of the present study was to systematically investigate the role of intimate partner support in alcohol use and to examine whether partner support serves a maladaptive function among individuals with a history of alcohol dependence. This goal was pursued in a sample of low-income outpatients because of increased risk for chronic stress and alcohol use disorders among this population. We implemented a comprehensive, multimethod assessment of partner support and ecological momentary assessments of alcohol use over 14 consecutive days. Results demonstrate the potential “dark side” of helping behaviors that has been proposed in recent literature. Specifically, in a sample of low-income outpatients, we found that receiving more frequent and higher quality support from one’s partner put individuals meeting criteria for alcohol dependence at greater risk for consuming alcohol. Findings converge with research suggesting that helping behaviors might function to enable maladaptive coping mechanisms in the context of alcohol use disorders.

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