Two people asking themselves, "Are alcohol and aggression linked?"

Are Alcohol and Aggression Linked?

Anger is an intense but entirely normal emotion when something goes wrong or after someone has done you wrong or disappointed you. Conversely, aggression is the range of behaviors resulting in physical and psychological harm to yourself, others, or things. Drinking alcohol can make a person act in ways they wouldn’t normally, including being angry or aggressive, which may make you ask, “Are alcohol and aggression linked?”

Experts believe some people become aggressive when drinking because alcohol affects the brain. If you or a loved one gets angrier than usual when consuming alcohol, contact The Right Step Houston online or call 1.844.768.0169 to learn how our substance abuse treatment programs can help.

Are Alcohol and Aggression Linked?

There is a link between alcohol and aggression, but the actual impact of drinking alcohol on aggressive or violent behavior is more nuanced than simply saying that drinking causes aggression. Many people who drink alcohol never become violent, and even those who become aggressive don’t do so every time they drink or get drunk. Still, there is strong evidence of a link between alcohol and aggression. 

There are quite a few ways that alcohol affects your body and may contribute to a rise in aggressive behaviors, including the following.

Not Seeing the Big Picture

Drinking alcohol may cause you to miss social and environmental cues that would help you see, interpret, and react to situations rationally. This is known as “alcohol myopia.” It makes you pay less attention to the consequences of immediate actions, words, and behaviors while drinking. This means that someone drinking alcohol or has gotten drunk might launch into saying or doing more extreme things to themselves or others instead of taking a moment to process the situation and think of the consequences. Without being able to see the big picture coherently, you may become violent over something you would typically be able to shrug off or ignore.

Processing Information Differently

While consuming alcohol, a person is more likely to misinterpret other people’s behavior, words, and actions. This is because alcohol affects the brain and causes you to process societal and environmental information differently than if you were sober and clear-minded. This is often why fights may start over minor things said or done and simple accidents like inadvertently bumping into someone. 

A Suppression of Inhibition

Even small amounts of alcohol affect brain chemistry. This is how you can experience initial feelings of relaxation when you start to drink. What’s happening, though, is that the alcohol is suppressing activity in parts of the brain associated with inhibition. When it comes to answering the question in focus—”Are alcohol and aggression linked?”—the answer can be found here because the standard warning signals that should kick in and stop you from acting impulsively are less likely to work while consuming alcohol. This means you may be more likely to find yourself in dangerous situations fueled by alcohol and aggression.

Alcohol, Aggression, and Domestic Violence

The following factors are known to increase the risk of aggression while drinking alcohol:

  • Being male
  • Binge drinking
  • Having high levels of trait anger
  • Having a sensation-seeking personality
  • Being irritable
  • Having friends or relatives who get aggressive while drinking
  • A general lack of empathy

Domestic violence is a grave concern when it comes to alcohol and aggression. Violence can often occur in marriages, long-term partnerships, and while dating, but these incidents are escalated and may be more frequent when alcohol is introduced into the picture. Studies show that substance abuse co-occurs in up to 60% of intimate partner violence, while 35% of victims who were able to report believe their attacker had been drinking.

According to the World Health Organization, high levels of alcohol consumption are associated with an increased risk of experiencing aggression and assault.

Learn More About Alcohol and Aggression in Texas at The Right Step Houston

Relationships at home, work, and with friends can suffer from alcohol and aggression. Thankfully, there is help available from substance abuse treatment programs at The Right Step Houston. Contact The Right Step Houston today at 1.844.768.0169 to learn more.

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