There are a number of ways people can be impacted by alcohol, particularly those who consume it regularly. For some people, a common result of regular drinking is the presence of anger, irritability or related behaviors — why is this, and how does alcohol influence the brain and the way moods are regulated?
At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we’re proud to offer the best, most caring alcohol rehabilitation and other addiction recovery services in Boise and nearby areas. There are many facets to our programs, but one of them for many of our patients includes helping them understand how a given substance, such as alcohol, may be impacting their brain, thought patterns and related behaviors. How does alcohol impact things like anger and aggression in many people, and what are the possible results of this — not just for yourself, but for those around you? Here’s an important breakdown.
Differentiating Anger and Aggression
Before we go any further, it’s important to realize that while these two terms may seem similar, they’re actually quite different in many ways. Anger is a feeling, while aggression is generally a behavior. That’s not to say that one can’t lead to the other, but it’s crucial to understand the distinction.
Anger is often associated with feelings of frustration, annoyance or even rage. It may be directed at someone or something specific, or it may be more general. It’s a normal, human emotion that everyone experiences from time to time.
Aggression, on the other hand, is generally characterized by behaviors meant to inflict harm or violence on someone or something. This may include physical aggression, such as hitting, kicking or using weapons, but it can also involve emotional aggression, such as name-calling, manipulation or threats.
While anger and aggression are different, they can often go hand-in-hand — that is, one may lead to the other. That’s where things like alcohol come into play.
Alcohol and Psychoactive Properties
While you may not have realized it, alcohol is a psychoactive drug. In other words, it alters the way your brain functions. It does this by impacting neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that help send messages throughout your brain and nervous system.
In general, alcohol has a depressant effect on the brain. This means that it slows down function in various ways. For example, it may impact your ability to think clearly, make decisions or react quickly. It can also lead to feelings of relaxation and even drowsiness.
For some people, regular alcohol consumption can result in changes in brain function that last long after the initial effects of the drink have worn off. Anger and resulting aggression are just some of the ways this may manifest.
In addition to the above, many people who drink regularly will experience what’s known as alcohol myopia. This is when someone who is drinking or drunk will lose their sense of perception, judgment and self-control. This can lead to a number of different problems, including aggression.
Alcohol myopia occurs because alcohol use leads to changes in the brain that result in an inability to process information correctly. As a result, people may focus on one thing to the exclusion of everything else. This can make it difficult to see the potential ramifications of their actions, which can in turn lead to aggression.
Impact of Alcohol-Related Aggression
Unfortunately, many people who drink regularly find they fall into some bad behavioral patterns with regard to anger and aggression. Here are some ways this happens:
- Losses in decision-making capabilities: As mentioned, one of the effects of alcohol is the slowing down of certain brain functions. This includes things like decision-making. When someone is impaired by alcohol, they may act impulsively and without thinking things through. This can lead to aggression as well as a number of other problems.
- Alcohol myopia: As discussed, this occurs when someone who is drinking or drunk loses their sense of perception, judgment and self-control. This can result in aggression as well as a number of other issues.
- Impulsivity: Alcohol consumption can also lead to impulsive behavior. This means that someone may act without thinking things through or considering the consequences of their actions. This can obviously lead to aggression and other problems.
- Assault or other violence: In some cases, alcohol-related aggression can lead to assault or other violence. This may be the result of a loss of self-control, impulsivity or alcohol myopia. It’s important to note that not everyone who drinks will become violent, but it is a risk factor.
Ways to Combat Alcohol-Related Anger and Aggression
Luckily, those who deal with issues like these are not facing their struggles alone. Here are some resources available:
- Alcohol rehabilitation or misuse programs: There are a number of different programs available to help those struggling with alcohol addiction or misuse. These can range from inpatient or outpatient treatment to 12-step programs or therapy.
- Support groups: There are also a number of different support groups available for those struggling with anger, aggression or other issues related to alcohol use. These can be a great way to get support and advice from others who are dealing with similar issues.
- Counseling: Counseling can be an extremely effective way to deal with anger, aggression and other issues related to alcohol use. A counselor can help you understand the root of your problem and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
- Medication: In some cases, medication may be necessary to help deal with alcohol-related aggression. This is usually the case when someone is struggling with a mental health issue like anxiety or depression.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol-related anger or aggression, there are a number of resources available to help.
At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we’re proud to serve as one of these resources. For more on this subject, or to learn about any of our inpatient or outpatient alcohol or addiction recovery services in or around Boise, speak to our caring staff at your convenience.