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Alcohol and Anger: Understanding the Connection

Alcohol and Anger: Understanding the Connection

Alcohol can cause irrational aggression, resulting in domestic violence and psychological issues. However, MAT can help manage alcohol-related anger.

Alcohol consumption has been strongly associated with anger and aggressiveness as it can suppress normal cognitive and psychological functioning. According to the World Health Organization, alcohol-related aggression can occur in both acute and chronic alcohol use. Although anger is considered normal human behavior, alcohol-related anger is usually irrational in intensity and quickly escalates toward aggression and violence.

Anger trait also makes people prone to alcohol-related anger outbursts. Anger trait is one of the main risk factors for developing this aggression and uncontrolled anger. Moreover, alcohol misuse can make people assume they’re in power and show angry outbursts more often. Being at the opposite end of someone with alcohol-related anger outbursts can be scary and painful.

If you or your close ones are struggling with alcohol-related anger, Confidant Health provides an opportunity to overcome this issue. This online platform offers Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) in which medications and behavioral therapies are used to cope with alcohol use.

Understanding anger and aggression

Anger is an emotion that is very normal to express. Anger is a response to different factors like hurt, frustration, jealousy, feeling helpless, rejection, worry, embarrassment, etc. You may become angry on various occasions, and it varies from person to person how you will express your anger. Some people can easily manage their anger. Anger is not always a big issue unless it causes problems in your relationships with family, friends, and loved ones. However, if anger is not treated and managed appropriately, this may cause harm to your health.

The terms “anger” and “aggression” are usually used interchangeably; however, there is a difference between Anger and aggression. Anger is an emotion experienced when you feel threatened and frustrated, while aggression is a behavior in which you can harm yourself, your family, and others. In short, aggression refers to uncontrolled and unmanaged anger.

Types of anger and aggression

Anger and aggression can be of two types: outward/expressive anger and suppressed anger.

  • Outward anger is when someone shouts, curses, breaks things and physically or verbally abuses others. Outward aggression, if uncontrolled, can lead to violence.
  • Inward aggression is directed at one’s inner self. However, it also negatively affects one’s psychological and physical entity. Moreover, it can also make one  prone to depression, alcohol addiction, and negative thoughts.

Inward anger is also a risk factor for alcohol misuse, while outward anger is often  an outcome of alcohol misuse.

How does alcohol affect the brain?

The brain is the human body's main organ that deals with cognition, memory, and emotional responses. To work properly, it has many special chemical-like substances known as neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are responsible for the emotional and cognitive processes of the brain.

Unfortunately, the equilibrium of these particles gets disrupted when the levels of alcohol are high in the blood, causing damage to the brain’s functioning. Similarly, long-term use of alcohol can also result in psychological dependence and withdrawal symptoms upon avoiding alcohol use. 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. 

Moreover, alcohol also affects the information-processing pathways present among the brain cells. That is why drinking too much alcohol can cause adverse effects like confusion, impaired motor coordination, and inability to make decisions. In addition to the brain, alcohol also risks health as it can severely damage the liver, heart, digestive system, immune system, mood, and sleep.

How does alcohol influence an individual's behavior?

Although alcohol consumption may produce short-term relaxing and soothing effects, it has many adverse effects on human behavior and emotions in the long run. As mentioned above, alcohol can damage the brain cells and their chemicals; alcohol can lead to aggression, uncontrolled anger, offensive behavior, and violent activities. Moreover, alcohol can also cause dysregulation in the body's stress pathways, resulting in increased anxiety, stress, psychosis, and suicidal tendencies.

Similarly, chronic alcohol dependence makes a person strictly dependent on alcohol for short-term joy. In alcohol dependence, you may not find happiness in normal joyful activities but only after consuming alcohol. Thus, you may feel a low mood, sadness, and anxiety in chronic alcohol misuse.

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Alcohol-Related Aggression

Acute and chronic alcohol consumption can precipitate anger and aggressive behavior by affecting different brain areas. Alcohol-related aggression, however, is different from normal angry behavior as it usually leads to uncontrolled aggression and violence. This type of aggression can also cause relationship conflicts, failures, and unprofessional behaviors. Sometimes, this aggression is associated with impulsiveness, making the person violent and dangerous to himself and the people around him.

Risk factors

Various factors can put us at increased risk for alcohol-related anger or aggression. However, early management of these factors can lessen the chances of developing alcohol-related aggressiveness. 

Drinking habits

Drinking alcohol correlates with alcohol-related anger issues. However, acute alcohol consumption is more often associated with aggressive behavior than chronic alcohol intake.

Personality traits 

Everyone has a different personality, and a person with the trait of anger is at more risk of violence or aggression when drinking alcohol. Similarly, type A personalities are more prone to alcohol-related anger.


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.

Social factors

Social factors can significantly impact human behaviors. For example, suppose you see a friend or person in your surroundings with violent behavior after drinking alcohol. In that case, you may react the same way because of excessive exposure to such harmful environments and behaviors. Similarly, a low socioeconomic background can also make you express anger outbursts more often.

Mental health

Alcohol-related aggressiveness can also occur commonly if you’re already struggling with a mental health issue such as anxiety, stress, and depression. In such a case, drinking alcohol can further exaggerate the condition and precipitate anger-related issues.


Sometimes, a victim who has experienced abuse or mental trauma may get addicted to alcohol. It happens because such a person would seek escape from the painful thoughts of previous trauma or abuse.

Signs of alcohol-related anger

Alcohol-related anger can present with different signs and symptoms, varying from person to person. As alcohol can affect different body parts, including your heart, brain, muscles, and hormone regulation, there are both psychological and physiological signs.

Psychological signs

  • Mental stress
  • Irrational rage
  • Frustration
  • Irritability
  • Excessive mood swings

Sometimes, you may also have feelings of guilt and shame along with these signs of anger.

Physiological signs

  • Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
  • Muscular tension and cramps
  • Digestive problems, usually diarrhea, and nausea
  • Headache

Effects of alcohol-related aggressiveness

If you consistently express irrational anger after drinking, it can devastate yourself and your social circle. In addition, alcohol-related aggressiveness can make you lose your loved ones and put you in difficult situations. 

Domestic violence

When you drink alcohol and behave aggressively, you may be violent with your family members, leading to domestic violence. Women and children are often at increased risk of domestic violence from someone addicted to alcohol. 


When you drink alcohol, you behave impulsively, which can affect your decision-making abilities. When you are drunk, most things will cloud you, and you will not be able to perceive situations correctly. As a result, you may make irrational decisions about your life.

Mental health problems

Alcohol-related anger and aggressive behaviors increase the chance of developing common mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and stress. Moreover, alcohol can increase the risk of bipolar disorder, dementia, mood disorders, and schizophrenia.

Physical health issues

Several studies have revealed that prolonged anger is one of the risk factors for many physiological problems, such as myocardial infarction (heart attack), stroke, myopia, and hypertension (increased blood pressure). 

How can you deal with alcohol-related anger?

It is tough to face someone struggling with alcohol-related anger, especially if they are your family member as a sibling, parent, spouse, or friend. However, there are some strategies to deal with them.

  • Try to walk away: If your partner or any person is drunk and arguing with you, avoid them till they are back in their senses. Anger often damages relationships because it can express itself through verbal or active violence. Therefore, walking away in such a situation would be beneficial as the fight will not be continued; thus, anger may go unexpressed.
  • Divert the attention: Try to distract the intoxicated person from the topic that is making them angry. . You can try to divert their attention to another issue, but you must be conscious of the situation to not  exacerbate their aggression. You want  to be there for them, but if their behavior hurts you or spoils and affects your mental health, stay away and focus on yourself.
  • Talk to them:  It may be beneficial to talk to your loved-one about their alcohol-related anger and how it effects you. Also, you can tell them how you feel when they react badly and make them understand that alcohol can also be a significant threat to their lives.
  • Involve community resources: Community services can be a good option if the situation escalates due to alcohol-related aggressiveness. It can save you and your close ones from any unfortunate event. You can also use community resources to help you overcome alcohol-related anger issues.

Confidant Health is an online platform that provides licensed professionals to help you resolve alcohol-related aggressiveness through MAT.

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Alcohol and Anger Management

The management for a person who is addicted and has anger issues includes the following ways.

  • Regular physical activity can decrease the cravings and manage the anger related to alcohol.
  • Meditation techniques such as mindfulness can decrease the likelihood of alcohol-related aggressive behaviors.
  • Adopting a healthy hobby like gardening, playing with kids, etc., can keep you calm and divert your mind toward healthy activities.
  • Talk therapy (also known as Behavioral therapy) can help manage anger and alcohol misuse. That is why it is integral to Confidant Health’s MAT therapy.

Points to consider in anger management

  • Distractions must be positive and helpful to divert their attention from aggressive triggers during conversations.
  • Cognition-related tackling skills will be helpful for you to control your rage after drinking to stay in your conscious state and avoid anger.
  • Therapists or professionals make you deal with your anger issues by making you know the triggers and ways to avoid them. They can get to the root cause of your anger problem. 

Alcohol-Related Aggression Treatment

Professional treatment for alcohol-related anger can help avoid the habit of drinking and decrease the likelihood of alcohol-related aggression.

Drug therapy 

FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved the following drugs to cope with alcohol dependence.

  • Naltrexone to reduce the cravings and effects of alcohol.
  • Disulfiram to treat chronic alcohol misuse. 
  • Acamprosate Calcium to maintain abstinence from alcohol.

However, these drugs have pros and cons, so these should only be used after consulting a professional. Confidant Health provides online access to licensed professionals who can help you cope with alcohol dependence and related aggression.

There are some therapies for alcohol-related aggression:

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Along with drug therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is usually recommended to solve problems associated with alcohol misuse. This therapy uses different psychological techniques to modify alcohol-related behaviors and help you overcome alcohol addiction. 

Consult with Confidant Health’s professionals

If you or your close ones are struggling with alcohol misuse or alcohol-related anger, you can consult online with Confidant Health’s professionals. To get started, you can download Confidant Health’s app by downloading the link from its official page.

This article has been medically reviewed by
Erin Hillers
Erin Hillers
Erin Hillers
Nurse Practitioner

Erin is a Nurse Practitioner with 8 years of experience in midwifery and women's health. She has spent the past 5 years specializing in the treatment of opioid and alcohol use disorders.

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