Alcohol and Anger: Understanding the Connection

It also raises the risk for negative consequences of outbursts related to explosive and uncontrolled anger. Because alcohol is a psychoactive drug, it temporarily alters your mood, perception and feelings. Intoxicated people may feel more outgoing, lonely, joyful — or angry. For example, if you start drinking when you’re lonely and sad, you may find the alcohol makes you feel even more desolate and distressed than you did when you were sober.

Afterward, they either drank an alcoholic beverage (orange juice mixed with alcohol) or a placebo (the same concoction but with minimal alcohol). Alcohol can impair the OFC, and disrupt communication between the OFC and the amygdala. Without the OFC doing its job of calming those intense emotions, a person can have a strong reaction (2). The search was conducted by two independent authors (HVL and AE) who first analyzed the titles and abstracts and then selected manuscripts for full-text reading.

Dealing with Being Angry While Sober

Muscle tension, headaches, irregular heart rate and blood pressure, sleep difficulties, and the potential for heart problems or even stroke may be possible risk factors for chronic anger and emotional regulation issues. Add in alcohol abuse, and the multitude of possible social, emotional, physical, financial, and behavioral problems related to alcohol addiction, and the risk factors and potential for negative side effects go up exponentially. Users of psychoactive substances had elevated anger scores compared to non-users, which represents a high risk of relapse. It is suggested that PSU treatment programs include intensive anger management modules, focusing on factors such as dealing with daily stressors, family conflicts, frustrations, and problems. Alcohol use and abuse can lead to anger, aggression, and even violence in a wide range of different situations. The specific relationship between alcohol and anger is highly complex and can vary drastically from person to person.

Relapse is prevalent, with almost sixty percent of people having one major episode a year after completing treatment. But, anger problems are often cited as one of the main culprits of relapse among recovering alcoholics. Not to mention, recovering alcoholics that don’t manage anger are at higher risk of relapse.

Alcohol and Aggression: A Neuroscience Perspective

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. Admittedly, it’s hard to surrender the need to be right in favor of love and compromise. But, little by little, surrendering these reflexive instincts is a more compassionate, evolved way to get your needs met and keep relationships viable if and when it’s possible.” ~Dr. Judith Orloff As Dr. Orloff points out, overpowering anger is extremely difficult.

alcoholism and anger

These groups are designed to help those struggling with alcohol addiction overcome the consequences of their condition – including being able to control their angry responses. AA meetings are typically open to anyone who wants to attend, and offer a nonjudgmental and supportive environment to talk through the effects alcoholism has had on your personal life. It may be a great first step on the path to addressing how alcoholism has made you angry alcoholism and anger  – and vice versa. The practical reasons for conducting this study are to assess whether it is relevant to include this feeling in therapeutic practices with users of psychoactive substances and determine which symptoms correlate with anger. “You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.” ~ Buddha Feeling anger is part of being human. From toddlers to old men, everyone experiences anger from time to time.

Talk with your doctor about reducing alcohol intake

Being at the opposite end of someone with alcohol-related anger outbursts can be scary and painful. The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that alcohol interferes with a person’s cognitive and physical functioning, inhibiting self-control and making it more difficult for a person to recognize when things have gone too far. It can be harder for someone under the influence of alcohol to notice typical warning signs that emotions, especially anger, may be getting out of control.

  • These programs typically last 30, 60, or 90 days, sometimes longer.
  • Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a condition in which a person taking alcohol struggles with alcohol dependence and has minimal control over the cravings for alcohol despite negative social and economic consequences.
  • Identifying those factors that might contribute to heightened anger when consuming alcohol is important for individuals who have anger issues and those who treat them.
  • The treatment should target both the person’s mental health and substance use disorder as two parts of a whole.
  • If an intoxicated person becomes upset because the bartender refuses to serve them, help from a friend might calm them down.

That, paired with the way people make decisions when they’re drinking, is often a recipe for disaster. Before we take a deeper dive into the relationship between alcohol, anger, and aggression, it’s important to understand the difference between anger and aggression. While the two share many similarities, they are two very different emotions. As noted above, the mean (M) and SD scores for anger among users and non-users of psychoactive substances, assessed by the STAXI4 and BPAQ24 instruments, were collected and recorded. As if that wasn’t complex enough, anger can also result from inherited tendencies or brain chemistry.