Alcohol and Aggression

According to a survey done in England, 39% of all recorded violent incidents were under the influence of alcohol. One study found 30% of intimate couples reported that alcohol was involved when there was severe violence in the home. This coincides with my findings when I counsel people that see me for anger management. Roughly 30% of my clients act out aggressively under the influence of alcohol. I have also found that if we can eliminate the booze, then in many cases the anger is gone.

So, it is fact that too much alcohol can make us act in ways that we wouldn't normally behave in. It can make us act like a fool, partake in dangerous activities, or we can become angry and aggressive. Experts believe that the reason why some people can become aggressive when drunk is due to the way that the brain functions when its pickled in alcohol.

One of the theories is that alcohol reduces our ability to think clearly and logically. We may miss social cues that help us to interpret situations in a rational sense. This means that if we're provoked when drunk, we may not be able to analyse what's going on rationally. Instead we react emotionally and immediately to a perceived threat, which could lead to anger and violence from folks that would normally just shrug stuff off. This could be the reason why a drunken brawl starts over as little as bumping into someone at the pub.

More about aggression from alcohol consumption

There may be something in a person's biological makeup that causes them to act out angrily when binge drinking. They may be the kindest, well behaved, and thoughtful person going around but when out on the weekend, hitting the turps, they become an aggressive monster. For others it may be the length of time that they're drinking. For example, if someone's been drinking for five or six hours, this could lower their ability to accept certain types of behaviours and opinions from others. There's some that drink daily and drink excessive amounts daily. Some of these folks have a low tolerance to anything that disturbs the inner value system. They may snap at the slightest annoyance.

The reasons for drinking are also extremely varied, they include:

  • Social bonding

  • Coping mechanism

  • Boredom

  • A learnt behaviour

If there is an association between drinking alcohol and aggression, then I tend to tackle the question: “Why is this person drinking?” Once we can work out the cause then we can put systems in place to reduce the amount of alcohol being consumed.

Let’s look at some options:

  • Build a support network. Get your loved ones involved, a trusted friend, a community-based program.

  • Talk about your concern. This will help you and others understand it better.

  • Know how to say No - when someone offers you a drink.

  • Change your environment. Stay away from places where alcohol is consumed. Try distancing yourself from certain social groups.

  • Get rid of the alcohol from your home. Don't have it, can't drink it.

  • Find a new favourite drink. I know that drinking a glass of water instead of a glass of red wine isn't quite the same, but it is a pleasant healthier alternative.

  • Change your routines. For example, if you always meet with workmates for a beer or two after work then change that habit. If you go out and drink considerably at a restaurant, then find one that doesn't serve alcohol.

  • Focus on your health and wellbeing – instead of having a drink. Good food, physical exercise and a decent night's sleep can go a long way to replace alcohol in your life.

  • Find a new hobby. The objective is to keep yourself busy so the boredom doesn't slip back in.

  • Journaling. Writing it down is also a good way to keep track of your drinking behaviours.

  • Seek help. Get yourself a good therapist to help you along the way and to keep you accountable.

Quitting drinking may take a while. Remember to be kind to yourself. You have may have been ingrained in this habit for a long time and it may take huge amount of effort, determination, and willpower to overcome the body's urging for alcohol. Whether you want to give up drinking completely or just slow down a tad, there are always ways that this can be accomplished. But it all starts with you. You need to make a conscious decision. If you are finding it difficult to get it done on your own, then do not be afraid to put your hand up and ask for help. There is always a way.

If you need help with alcohol fueled aggression and anger then reach out. I am here to help.


Or call 0405 391 110

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