Our earlier reports on 88 male alcoholics and their wives showed that domestic violence decreased significantly in the first and second year following a behavioral marital therapy (BMT) alcoholism treatment program. The present study examined verbal aggression in this same sample. In the year before BMT, verbal aggression was significantly greater—being five to seven times more prevalent for clinically elevated aggression and substantially more frequent—for the alcoholic husbands and their wives than for a demographically matched, nonalcoholic comparison sample. In the two years after BMT, both alcoholic men and their wives showed significant and substantial reductions in verbal aggression as compared with the year before BMT. Despite these significant reductions from the year before BMT, verbal aggression in the two years after BMT remained significantly elevated relative to demographically similar nonalcoholic controls. As predicted, relapsed alcoholics and their wives showed more verbal aggression in the 2 years after BMT than both couples with a remitted alcoholic husband and demographically similar nonalcoholic controls, whereas remitted alcoholics and their wives had similar levels of verbal aggression to the nonalcoholic controls. Further, frequency of drinking was positively correlated with verbal aggression in the 2 years after BMT; verbal aggression was greater when the alcoholic husband drank more frequently.
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O'Farrell, T.J., Murphy, C.M., Neavins, T.M. et al. Verbal Aggression Among Male Alcoholic Patients and Their Wives in the Year Before and Two Years After Alcoholism Treatment. Journal of Family Violence 15, 295–310 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1007503411845
- domestic violence
- verbal aggression
- behavioral marital therapy