How Alcohol Affects Your Personality

Alcoholism, like a lot of addictions, causes a lot of collateral damage. Alcohol seems to bring out terrible behavior in some people. You know the type – the ones that, after a few drinks, will start to get very aggressive and sometimes violent.

What you may not realize is that alcohol has been tied to one-half of all the violent crimes committed in the United States. Think about the terrible stories of violence in your community that you hear in the news or read in your newsfeed. Now take half of them and understand that drinking to excess is the cause.

This article explores the concept of a “mean drunk.” What is the science behind the phenomenon of the mean drunk? How can alcohol rehab help to handle aggression and addiction together?

The Science Behind The “Mean Drunk”

An April 2018 study published in Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience drew a correlation between alcohol consumption and aggression. The research used 50 male test subjects to determine if drinking booze increased aggression. Researchers fed these men either a placebo or a low dose of alcohol and then conducted an MRI to see how alcohol and aggression came together in the brain.

The study worked by having test subjects play a game that stimulated aggression; participants had to push a button more quickly in a race against a simulated opponent. When they failed to beat their opponent, they were blasted with an uncomfortably loud sound. If they won, they got to pick the level of sound blasted at their opponent.

Of course, they did not realize their opponent was a computer, not a living person.

What they found was that when the test subjects were acting aggressively after consuming alcohol, “intoxicated participants showed decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex.”

The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that helps moderate social behavior and inhibition as well as aggression.

Angry looking young woman.

The Link Between Alcohol and Aggression

The study stated: “Aggression is thought to occur because alcohol focuses attention on instigator cues (such as the noise blasts) and away from inhibitory cues (norms proscribing aggression).” That means the test subjects began focusing intently on their opponent instead of worrying if, in fact, they were being mean.

Another study at Ohio State University tested 500 students by asking them to play a game. If they lost, they would receive a shock. If they won, they got to choose how intense and how long they shocked their opponent. Prior to the test, each subject completed a survey designed to measure his or her concern for future consequences.

Then they fed the test subjects alcohol. What they found was that the people who expressed little concern for the consequences of their actions behaved more aggressively when drunk, administering longer and more intense shocks. Researchers stated that these individuals “are by far the most aggressive people in the study.”

Getting Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

What this research reveals is that the concept of a mean drunk is based on science and the disease of addiction. Alcoholism is a serious problem tied to violent and aggressive behavior, but alcohol addiction treatment can help.

If you are struggling with alcohol addiction, contact The Recovery Village Ridgefield to learn more about our evidence-based treatment programs