The Angry Drunk: How Alcohol and Aggression Are Linked


About half of adults in the United States drink alcohol, 20% are former drinkers, and 30 to 35% are lifetime abstainers. Drinking large amounts of alcohol (more than 2 to 6 drinks per day) for extended periods can damage a number of organs, especially the liver, heart, and brain. However, drinking a moderate amount of alcohol may reduce the risk of death from heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disorders. Nonetheless, drinking alcohol for this purpose is not recommended, especially when other safer, more effective preventive measures are available.

Alcohol Server Training

in which stage of intoxication does an individual become aggressive

Another study of 249 heavy drinkers similarly found that alcohol intoxication predicted higher levels of IPV in those who reported low psychological flexibility (Grom et al., 2021). As approximately 44.4% of college students engage in binge drinking to reach study-approximate levels of intoxication, ours is certainly a relevant sample. Even so, it will be important to replicate the current findings in samples of more hazardous drinkers.

Individual Differences in Alcohol-Induced Aggression

An increase in anger after trauma and the use of alcohol to cope with PTSD symptoms were stronger predictors of physically aggressive or violent acts than a lifetime diagnosis of PTSD without anger. The generalizability of the study results may be limited by the low ecological validity of the laboratory environment. Certainly, there are contextual differences between a university laboratory and a barroom or house party, including expectations for social conventions and the effects of alcohol. Even so, we consider the high internal validity to be a strength, particularly when alcohol’s effects on behavior may operate via an attentional mechanism (Steele & Josephs, 1988) and complements the external validity of earlier field research (Hales et al., 2015). Buckingham and colleagues’ (2016) laboratory alcohol administration design addressed some of the above limitations.

Treatment Options/Resources for Alcohol Misuse & Addiction

Those who start drinking at an early age (particularly the preteen years) are much more likely to become dependent on alcohol as adults. To date there are no studies that directly investigate whether alcohol-induced aggressive behavior can be reduced through training in cognitive functions. An understanding of individual risk factors may contribute to providing treatments tailored to individual problems.

  • Although different resources will vary, most will tell us that there are six to seven stages of intoxication experienced by most people.
  • One study supporting this finding enlisted 245 men with a history of heavy episodic alcohol use (Berke et al., 2020).
  • Due to the possibility of receiving alcohol, all participants were required to have arranged transportation to and from the laboratory.
  • Behavioral Signs When a person reaches this stage, they are already at twice the legal driving limit.