What Is the Connection between Alcohol and Anger?

Daniel Liden

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. Some people simply become angry and aggressive when they are intoxicated, regardless of how often they consume or abuse alcohol. Intoxication also leads some people to express anger that they would otherwise conceal so as to avoid confrontation. Individuals who are dependent on alcohol, on the other hand, often become angry when they do not consume alcohol for an extended period of time or when friends or family try to tell them that they have problems with alcoholism.

Some people who are calm when sober may become angry and easily provoked when intoxicated.
Some people who are calm when sober may become angry and easily provoked when intoxicated.

The link between alcohol and anger varies drastically from person to person. Some individuals may remain calm or even become more content when intoxicated. Others may launch into irrational rages or engage in uncharacteristic acts of aggression and violence.

Alcohol consumption frequently intensifies emotions.
Alcohol consumption frequently intensifies emotions.

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The relationship between alcohol and anger can be seen most clearly in those who become angry when intoxicated. Some people who normally seem calm and composed when sober may become angry and easily provoked when intoxicated. Alcohol may cause individuals who are already commonly angry and aggressive to express anger even more and to be even more easily provoked.

In some cases, abusers of alcohol rely on it to provide a semblance of emotional stability.
In some cases, abusers of alcohol rely on it to provide a semblance of emotional stability.

In many people, particularly those who regularly abuse and are dependent on alcohol, the relationship between alcohol and anger only becomes apparent after a period of time without alcohol. Those who become intoxicated every day or several times per week may become angry and belligerent if they cannot, for whatever reason, become intoxicated.

Those who experience anger under the influence of alcohol may be more likely to act out violently, such as get into a fight.
Those who experience anger under the influence of alcohol may be more likely to act out violently, such as get into a fight.

In many cases, abusers of alcohol rely on it to provide some semblance of emotional stability. When it is unavailable, they are likely to become highly irritable, depressed, angry, and possibly violent. Some such individuals may also become angry if someone, even close friends and family members, confront them about their problems with alcohol.

Any link between alcohol and anger varies from person to person.
Any link between alcohol and anger varies from person to person.

Different people use a variety of methods to handle their problems with alcohol and anger. Some people, upon recognizing that they have problems, turn to Alcoholics Anonymous or anger management classes or some combination of the two. Others find some help with alcohol and anger from religion and from church-based support groups. All of these require, first and foremost, the admission that one has a problem. Problems with alcohol and anger seldom improve on their own, and solving such problems requires a great deal of commitment and outside help.

Some people use alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with bottled up anger.
Some people use alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with bottled up anger.

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Discussion Comments

fify

@MikeMason-- My grandmother is exactly the opposite, she gets angry when she doesn't get her drink. We make sure she has access to alcohol at all times during family reunions and holidays, so that she doesn't get out of control.

fBoyle

@MikeMason-- It's unbelievable how alcohol can affect people. Some people really do portray a very different character when they have alcohol. It's difficult to recognize them.

But do you think that your friend's dad is really a calm and nice person or is he just hiding his anger and aggression when he doesn't drink?

stoneMason

My friend's father, who used to be an alcoholic, had a problem with alcohol and anger. I used to hang out at my friend's place all the time and her dad was a very nice man when he didn't drink. But when he did drink, which was everyday starting at 7pm, he would completely change. He would become aggressive and mean and start yelling at everyone.

He sought help though and spent several months at a facility that helped alcoholics overcome their addiction. He was treated and he hasn't drank for the past five years. He is a very nice man, I've never seen him get angry or aggressive since he stopped drinking.

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