Those who depend on their love life to boost their self-esteem have their feeling of jealousy magnified if they suspect they are being cheated on, so are more likely to drink.
The finding is the first time relationship-dependent self-esteem, jealousy and drinking have been linked, and could help identify those most at risk of alcoholism.
Understanding the association between being in love and drink could help identify the vulnerable more quickly, the study published in Addictive Behaviours found.
Research has shown that using alcohol to cope with negative emotions is one of the strongest indicators of an emerging problem, which means it can be prevented.
Dr Angelo DiBello, of the University of Houston, said: “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.
“This research helps to highlight the associations between these factors and shows how our emotions, thoughts and behaviours are related in potentially harmful ways.”