Sober living

The Link Between Anger and Alcoholism


In addition to aggression, alcohol alone modulates dopaminergic neurotransmission, where even the cues of alcohol could increase the dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens (Melendez et al., 2002). Dysregulation of dopaminergic neurotransmission in AUD has been demonstrated in several brain imaging studies (Leurquin-Sterk et al., 2018; Chukwueke et al., 2021). Factors such as personality traits and comorbidities with other psychiatric disorders along with environmental stressors influence how one could engage in violent behaviors. Hence, even though alcohol might be the precursor to violence for some, it certainly takes more than the beverage to increase the likelihood of someone shooting from the hip. Some studies highlight the impairment caused by alcohol consumption on processing emotional faces.

It also includes binge drinking — a pattern of drinking where a male has five or more drinks within two hours or a female has at least four drinks within two hours. When they aren’t under the influence, you can try speaking openly with them about how their actions make you feel, how they’re affecting your family and why something needs to change. This has an effect on the life of the person exhibiting this consistent anger. It makes people — even their closest friends — less willing to spend time with them.

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Moreover, alcohol-related anger is more common in young and single males than married and old ones. Alcohol can cause irrational aggression, resulting in domestic violence and psychological issues. It’s possible that you were angry before you started drinking and alcohol is magnifying those feelings. It is also possible that excessive alcohol consumption is causing a depletion of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays a role in mood regulation. Learning the root causes of your AUD and identifying the triggers for your anger is a healthy and necessary process.

  • Disinhibition can make you unable to suppress or change an act of aggression that is not appropriate for the situation you’re in.
  • When you drink alcohol, parts of your brain that manage anger are suppressed, making it more likely for angry feelings to bubble to the surface.
  • For example, some cases of domestic violence have turned fatal because one person refused to leave when their partner was being abusive to them.
  • In a British prison sample, over a third of male homicide offenders had consumed alcohol and were considered drunk at the time of the offense and 14.0% had been using drugs (Dobash and Dobash, 2011).

The findings were explained by emphasizing that concern for the future involves greater prefrontal cortex resources that help inhibit the excessive impact of alcohol. Another study explored the relationship between Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), alcohol use, and violence (Blakey et al., 2018). This was a massive study of 33,215 individuals alcoholic rage syndrome with no history of active military combat. An increase in anger after trauma and the use of alcohol to cope with PTSD symptoms were stronger predictors of physically aggressive or violent acts than a lifetime diagnosis of PTSD without anger. I’ve observed this pattern over several decades in helping clients deal with anger.

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Extreme emotions that are usually hidden from others, like anger and sadness, may be more noticeable when you drink because you’re less able to conceal and manage them. When they come out, others notice them because they’re not a part of the everyday social experience. Another study of 249 heavy drinkers similarly found that alcohol intoxication predicted higher levels of IPV in those who reported low psychological flexibility (Grom et al., 2021).

As a positive, unalarming emotion and one that others are used to seeing, however, happiness isn’t on the radar as much as anger. Research has shown that thought suppression may contribute to alcohol-related aggression. One study supporting this finding enlisted 245 men with a history of heavy episodic alcohol use (Berke et al., 2020). They completed surveys assessing their endorsement of traditional masculine norms, use of thought suppression, and both trait and alcohol-related aggression. It was found that thought suppression mediated the association between the toughness masculine norm and alcohol-related aggression. A number of research
studies have confirmed something that makes a lot of intuitive sense – people
who often get very angry and act aggressively while sober are very likely to
get even more aggressive and angry when drunk.

Anger and Alcohol Risk Factors

When people have difficulty controlling impulses, trouble regulating their emotions, or may present a danger to themselves and/or others, medical detox is required. Medical detox programs are often the first stage in a comprehensive addiction treatment program. These programs usually last 5-7 days on average and commonly use medications to manage difficult physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms.

  • Alcohol-related anger and aggressive behaviors increase the chance of developing common mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and stress.
  • Anger, either additively or in interaction with alcohol, was related to increases in negative anger- and alcohol-consequences (Leibsohn et al., 1994).
  • The key to meditating is to understand what is causing your anger and try to forget about it and move past it.
  • This suggested that both the women and men can be equally aggressive and alcohol does not seem to play a prominent role in the gender biases in aggression.