How Does Alcohol Use Interact With Anger?

There is little debate that alcohol is a contributing cause of aggressive behavior. The extreme complexity of this relation, however, has been the focus of extensive theory and research. And, likely due to this complexity, evidence-based programs to prevent or reduce alcohol-facilitated alcohol depression and anger aggression are quite limited. This integrative framework provides the basis for understanding the appropriate targets for prevention and intervention efforts and may serve as a catalyst for future research that seeks to inform intervention development.

Per-capita alcohol consumption peaked in the early 1980s at 3.28 gallons, or almost 700 drinks. It bottomed out in the late 1990s at 2.45 gallons per person, or about 523 drinks. As with all research, this study has limitations which should be considered in interpreting our findings.

Effects of alcohol intoxication on anger experience and expression among partner assaultive men

Others have documented the relationship between alcohol consumption and violence toward intimate partners (e.g., Lisco, Parrott, & Tharp, 2012) and sexual minorities (e.g., Parrott, Peterson, & Bakeman, 2011). Anger, either additively or in interaction with alcohol, was related to increases in negative anger- and alcohol-consequences (Leibsohn et al., 1994). That is, high-anger, alcohol-involved individuals were at greatest risk for a range of negative anger and alcohol consequences. Providing anger management skills to such individuals might help lower anger and conflict that would alter these negative consequence trajectories.

  • PHPs accept new patients, and people who have completed an inpatient program and require additional intensive treatment.
  • Some people may become more angry or aggressive when they drink, in part because of alcohol’s effects on brain chemistry.
  • And, likely due to this complexity, evidence-based programs to prevent or reduce alcohol-facilitated aggression are quite limited.
  • The integrity of these inhibitory capabilities may be compromised by various disinhibiting influences, which decrease the effectiveness of inhibitory efforts and, therefore, decrease the likelihood that a person will be able to resist an aggressive urge.

Some studies highlight the impairment caused by alcohol consumption on processing emotional faces. One such study involved a sample of 85 social drinkers who were described as being low or high trait anger based on their responses to the anger expression index of the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory-2 (STAXI-2) (Eastwood et al., 2020). They first consumed alcohol and were asked to recognize the emotions of different faces on a computer task. Specifically, they exhibited a reduced capacity to detect sadness and fear and a reduced tendency towards seeing happiness.

What Makes a “Crazy Drunk Person”?

When alcohol impairs this area, a person may be more likely to behave in a way they wouldn’t while sober, including getting confrontational (2). Often, it takes months (or even years) before someone finds themselves physiologically and psychologically dependent on alcohol. Because of this, it’s not always easy to figure out whether or not someone you love has a “problem,” let alone exactly when it began. Additionally, it can be hard for people to spot the signs of AUD in themselves.

Lack of impulse control can make someone fly into a fit of rage or become aggressive rapidly. If there are any concerns about content we have published, please reach out to us at

How to Prevent and Treat Alcohol-Related Aggression

What this means is that people whose personalities make them naturally quicker to become angry than others are even more likely to lose control under the influence of alcohol. But in real life, a person who loses control of their emotions when they drink is anything but entertaining. People spend years in therapy and in treatment for issues of their own that are caused by the consequences of this behavior. Researchers evaluated the failure to consider future consequences as a significant risk factor for aggression (Bushman et al., 2012) In this study, 495 social drinkers were assigned to a group that consumed alcohol or a placebo group.

alcoholism and anger

As humans, if we don’t address or release our anger healthily it can create a ticking timebomb internally that will eventually need to be released. Since substances of abuse tend to lower inhibitions and reduce impulse control, that anger can be released in an unhealthy and potentially even dangerous manner when someone has had too much to drink or is under the influence of another substance of abuse. Men are more at risk of having anger issues due to the overuse of alcohol. The probable reason for this is genetic factors and an increased tendency towards substance use. Moreover, alcohol-related anger is more common in young and single males than married and old ones. Anger is a response to different factors like hurt, frustration, jealousy, feeling helpless, rejection, worry, embarrassment, etc.

Alcohol dependence and significant alcohol involvement not reaching the level of dependence are often comorbid with a variety of anger-related consequences including interpersonal violence and conflict (Chermack et al., 2010). Research has strongly supported the inclusion of efficacious interventions to address this serious problem area as a part of alcohol dependence treatment (Chermack et al., 2008; Rothman et al., 2008). During-treatment improvements in the remaining anger and anger-related cognition measures predicted clients’ positive posttreatment alcohol involvement; however, predictive strength was not significantly different between treatment conditions. AM focused on the development of relaxation and cognitive coping skills for anger regulation (see Table 1 for outline of AM). Cognition-relaxation coping skills (CRCS; Deffenbacher & McKay, 2000) was chosen as the anger management protocol for four reasons.

alcoholism and anger

These are the issues that we jump into in this deep dive into the link between anger and alcoholism. The good news is, you can find help for both your anger and your alcoholism. “Gathering your power before you respond to anger takes awareness and restraint.

Call 999 if anyone is in immediate danger, 101 it it’s not an emergency, or you can report crime to the police online. Drinking alcohol can make us act in ways we wouldn’t normally, including being angry or aggressive. Another great way to work through your anger while becoming one with yourself and your body is through yoga and meditation. Doing something as simple as sitting with your eyes closed and allowing yourself to become one with your thoughts can be a great way to understand and process your feelings.

These days, people who misuse alcohol can enroll in various treatment programs, whether you choose the 12-step approach or decide to enter residential treatment. If you’re looking for help getting started, it’s wise to speak with your physician first. Furthermore, alcohol can make you focus too much on specific words or behaviors from other people. If you see someone cut in front of you in line for the bathroom at a bar or concert, you may react aggressively when you otherwise wouldn’t mind. When drinking, it becomes increasingly challenging to interpret information logically. Depending on the frequency of your use, you may need to discuss alcohol tapering strategies with your doctor.

Join The Discussion

Translate »