What Makes Alcoholics Mean? | Defining Wellness Centers (2023)

What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a chronic disease characterized by the compulsive misuse of alcohol despite its negative consequences. Alcoholism can significantly impact a person’s physical, emotional, and social well-being. It can lead to various negative outcomes, including liver disease, mental health problems, and relationship issues.

Several factors, including genetics, environment, and personal circumstances, can contribute to alcoholism. People who have a family history of alcoholism are more likely to develop the disease themselves, and those who grow up in households where alcohol is regularly consumed may be more likely to develop problematic drinking habits.

Why Are Alcoholics Mean?

One of the most commonly reported negative behaviors associated with alcoholism is aggression. Alcoholics may become more irritable and hostile when drinking and lash at others verbally or physically. This behavior can be particularly troublesome when it occurs within personal relationships or in public spaces.

(Video) Alcoholism - The deadly truth about its stigma | Sarah Drage | TEDxFolkestone

Alcohol can impair judgment and lower inhibitions, making it more difficult for people to control their emotions and actions. Alcohol can also increase feelings of anger, anxiety, and depression, which can lead to negative behaviors. Here are several reasons why alcoholics may become aggressive or seem mean.

1. Alcohol’s Effect on the Brain

Alcohol is a depressant that slows down the central nervous system, affecting the brain’s ability to process information and make rational decisions. As a result, alcohol can alter an individual’s mood and behavior, leading to increased aggression, irritability, and impulsivity. This effect might be intensified in chronic alcoholics who have been using alcohol for a prolonged period.

Studies have shown that alcoholism can result in decreased impulse control, which makes it harder for alcoholics to manage their emotions effectively. Additionally, the prolonged and excessive use of alcohol can lead to a decrease in brain volume, affecting cognitive functioning and contributing to the development of alcohol-induced brain damage. The changes in brain chemistry resulting from alcoholism can lead to various negative consequences, including increased hostility, irritability, and even violent behavior.

2. Alcoholism and Mental Illness

Alcoholism is often associated with underlying mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. These mental illnesses can intensify an alcoholic’s aggressive tendencies, making them more prone to emotional outbursts and abusive behavior. Moreover, alcoholism can exacerbate these pre-existing mental health issues, leading to a vicious cycle of self-destructive behavior.

Mental illness and alcoholism often go hand in hand, and it can be difficult to determine which came first. Some people with mental health issues turn to alcohol to cope with their symptoms, while others may develop mental health problems due to drinking.

3. Social and Environmental Factors

Alcoholics may have strained relationships with family and friends, lack a supportive network, and face financial and legal problems. These stressors can make them more likely to lash out.

Environmental factors, like living in poverty or a high-crime area, can create a sense of hopelessness and frustration, leading to increased aggression and hostile behavior. Additionally, an alcoholic who is surrounded by others who engage in similar behavior or have a permissive attitude toward alcohol and aggression may be more likely to exhibit mean behavior.

(Video) What Alcohol Does to Your Body, Brain & Health | Huberman Lab Podcast #86

4. Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms occur as the body and brain adjust to functioning without alcohol. The severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on the level of alcohol consumption and the length of time a person has been drinking.

Withdrawal symptoms can cause significant discomfort and distress, leading to irritability, restlessness, and anxiety. In some cases, the physical and emotional pain can be so overwhelming that alcoholics may turn to aggression and violence to cope. These symptoms can persist for days or even weeks, which can intensify an alcoholic’s negative emotions and make it difficult for them to interact with others.

5. Changes in Neurotransmitter Activity

Alcoholism can profoundly impact brain chemistry, leading to long-term changes that affect a person’s cognitive and behavioral functioning. For example, alcoholism can alter the levels of dopamine and serotonin, which are involved in mood regulation and impulse control. These changes can result in decreased impulse and emotional control, making it difficult for alcoholics to resist the urge to act aggressively or impulsively.

6. Social Isolation

Social isolation is a significant issue among alcoholics and can severely affect their mental health. The feeling of loneliness and isolation can make them more prone to negative emotions such as resentment and anger. When an alcoholic is isolated, as many were at the height of the pandemic, they may lack the necessary support and encouragement to break free from their addiction. Social isolation can worsen their addiction and lead to another vicious cycle of self-destructive behavior.

7. Trauma and Stress

Many people turn to alcohol to cope with trauma or stress. However, prolonged alcohol use can exacerbate these issues, increasing anger and hostility. It can create a never-ending cycle in which the individual drinks to cope with their negative feelings, which only worsens them.

Additionally, those who have experienced trauma or high-stress levels may struggle with trust issues, further isolating them and intensifying their aggressiveness and hostility toward others. Seeking professional help for trauma and stress-related issues, along with alcohol addiction, can be a crucial step in breaking this destructive cycle.

8. Childhood Experiences

Research has shown that traumatic childhood experiences can significantly impact an individual’s behavior and personality later in life. Children who grow up in abusive or neglectful environments may develop a range of emotional and behavioral issues, including anger and hostility. It can make them more prone to developing addiction problems, including alcoholism.

(Video) I'm An Alcoholic (Stories Of Addiction Recovery)

9. Relationship Issues

Alcoholism can strain relationships, leading to increased conflict and tension. This can be especially true if the individual is in a romantic relationship, where their behavior may be more volatile or unpredictable.

Alcoholism can also impact other relationships, including those with family members, friends, and coworkers. The alcoholic may become defensive or argumentative when confronted about their drinking, which may lead to hurt and frustration on the part of others. Alcoholics may prioritize their addiction over their relationships, leading to a lack of trust and resentment from loved ones.

10. Financial Stress

Alcohol can be expensive, and many alcoholics struggle with financial issues. This can contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety, which can manifest as hostility or anger.

Financial stress can also lead to shame and guilt, aggravating an alcoholic’s already shaky self-esteem. They may feel a sense of inadequacy or failure for their inability to manage their finances or maintain stability. It can make them more prone to lashing out at others or engaging in destructive behavior to cope with negative emotions.

11. Health Problems

Some health problems associated with alcoholism include liver damage, heart disease, and cognitive impairment. These issues can cause significant physical and emotional distress, impacting an individual’s behavior and mood.

For example, liver damage can cause physical pain and discomfort, leading to irritability and frustration. Similarly, cognitive impairment can cause confusion and disorientation, making it difficult for individuals to control their behavior and emotions. Also, individuals with alcohol-related health issues may feel hopelessness or despair, contributing to negative behaviors and attitudes.

12. Legal Issues

Legal problems such as DUIs and public intoxication can be embarrassing and cause significant stress, impacting an individual’s overall mood and behavior. Legal issues may result in job loss or difficulty finding employment, creating additional stress and frustration. In some cases, individuals may also face legal consequences, such as fines or jail time, which can further intensify their aggressive or hostile behavior.

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13. Lack of Support

Alcoholics may not have a strong support system, making it difficult to manage their behavior as they work to overcome their addiction. Without a support system or positive influences, they may not have access to the resources and guidance they need to manage their behavior and cope with the underlying issues contributing to their addiction.

How Can Defining Wellness Centers Help?

Defining Wellness Centers is a comprehensive addiction treatment facility that offers a range of services for individuals struggling with alcohol addiction. At DWC, we take a holistic approach to treatment, addressing addiction’s physical and emotional aspects.

One of the primary ways that we can help individuals struggling with alcoholism is by providing them with the tools and resources they need to overcome their addiction. DWC offers a range of evidence-based therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and group therapy. These can help individuals identify and address the underlying issues contributing to their addiction.

DWC also offers a range of holistic services that can help individuals manage the physical and emotional symptoms of alcoholism. These services include yoga, meditation, music therapy, and massage therapy, which can all help reduce stress, improve mood, and promote overall wellness.

Most importantly, we provide a supportive and compassionate environment for individuals struggling with addiction. Our centers’ experienced and knowledgeable team works closely with each client to develop personalized treatment plans that address their unique needs and challenges. DWC also offers ongoing support and resources to help clients maintain their sobriety after treatment.

Contact Defining Wellness Centers Today

Alcoholism is a devastating disease that can significantly impact a person’s well-being and relationships. While alcoholics may exhibit negative behaviors, it’s important to understand that these behaviors do not reflect their character or personality.

It is also important to note that not all alcoholics are “mean” or aggressive. While alcohol can certainly lead to negative behaviors, it’s not the sole cause of these behaviors. Many factors can influence a person’s behavior, including personality, life experiences, and coping mechanisms.

(Video) Signs You Need Alcohol Treatment | Comprehensive Wellness Centers

If you or a loved one are dealing with alcohol addiction, you’re not alone. Contact Defining Wellness Centers today to learn more about our holistic, personalized treatment programs.


Why alcohol is not a good coping mechanism? ›

You might think that alcohol helps you cope with stress, but it is not a good coping mechanism, as it is known to increase the symptoms of panic and anxiety disorders, depression and other mental disorders, and the risk of family and domestic violence.

How do you replace alcohol as a coping mechanism? ›

Developing Alternate Coping Skills
  1. Reaching out to others for comfort and support.
  2. Physical activity like walking, swimming, sports.
  3. Mindfulness practices like meditation or yoga.
  4. Distraction, like watching TV or listening to music.
  5. Learning and practicing social skills to address social anxiety.
  6. Talking to a therapist.
Oct 24, 2022

How does alcohol affect wellness? ›

Alcohol can cause high blood pressure, which increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Alcohol also weakens heart muscles, which can affect the lungs, liver, brain and other body systems, and also cause heart failure.

What are the most common health issues in alcoholics? ›

High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems. Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum. Weakening of the immune system, increasing the chances of getting sick.

Why alcohol is ruining my mental health? ›

Alcohol affects the part of your brain that controls inhibition, so you may feel relaxed, less anxious, and more confident after a drink. But these effects quickly wear off. The chemical changes in your brain can soon lead to more negative feelings, such as anger, depression or anxiety, regardless of your mood.

What are the 4 types of drinker? ›

There are four types of drinker – which one are you?
  • Social drinking. To date, nearly all the research on drinking motives has been done on teens and young adults. ...
  • Drinking to conform. ...
  • Drinking for enhancement. ...
  • Drinking to cope.

What is the most common defense mechanism used by alcoholics? ›

The three most common defense mechanisms used by those suffering from substance use disorders are denial, rationalization, and projection.

What are four strategies for treating alcoholism? ›

Behavioral Treatments
  • Developing the skills needed to stop or reduce drinking.
  • Helping to build a strong social support system.
  • Working to set reachable goals.
  • Coping with or avoiding the triggers that might cause relapse.

Does the urge to drink ever go away? ›

The cravings will lessen in severity over time, but for some people, they will take several years to go away completely. For others, the cravings may never fully disappear, but hopefully these individuals learned relapse-prevention skills in rehab to help them withstand these episodes.

What mental illness is associated with alcoholism? ›

Alcohol abuse can cause signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, psychosis, and antisocial behavior, both during intoxication and during withdrawal. At times, these symptoms and signs cluster, last for weeks, and mimic frank psychiatric disorders (i.e., are alcohol–induced syndromes).

Do true feelings come out when drunk? ›

Do true feelings come out when you're drunk? True feelings may come out when you're drunk, but this isn't necessarily true all the time. Instead, alcohol can make people make fake stories and react with emotions they don't feel.

What does long term alcohol abuse do to the brain? ›

Alcohol makes it harder for the brain areas controlling balance, memory, speech, and judgment to do their jobs, resulting in a higher likelihood of injuries and other negative outcomes. Long-term heavy drinking causes alterations in the neurons, such as reductions in their size.

What are the 3 types of alcoholic? ›

Alcohols bind with other atoms to create secondary alcohols. These secondary alcohols are the three types of alcohol that humans use every day: methanol, isopropanol, and ethanol.

Why do alcoholics sleep so much? ›

Alcohol may aid with sleep onset due to its sedative properties, allowing you to fall asleep more quickly. However, people who drink before bed often experience disruptions later in their sleep cycle as liver enzymes metabolize alcohol. This can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness and other issues the following day.

What is considered long term alcohol abuse? ›

For most men, that's defined as more than 4 drinks a day, or 14 or 15 in a week. For women, heavy drinking is more than 3 drinks in a day, or 7 or 8 per week.

Can alcohol change your personality? ›

The answer is yes. Alcohol can change your personality long-term, which may cause you to develop a drinking problem. Alcohol can cause damage to the brain, which could lead to personality changes or act as a trigger for other mental health issues like anxiety or depression.

How do you know if you have brain damage from alcohol? ›

The symptoms of this include memory loss, apathy, and confusion about where they are and about the passage of time. A swift diagnosis and early treatment can often reverse these symptoms.

Does alcohol mess with you mentally? ›

Some people may drink alcohol to relax or help cope with daily stresses; however, alcohol is a depressant drug 1 that can cause anxiety and increase stress. Alcohol can negatively affect thoughts, feelings and actions, and contribute to the development of, or worsen, existing mental health issues over time.

What is the difference between a heavy drinker and an alcoholic? ›

Problem drinking is using alcohol in a way that can negatively impact your health and your life, but the body is not physically dependent on the substance. Alcoholism, on the other hand, most likely includes the physical addiction to alcohol in addition to the problems it may cause your health and your life.

Can you drink a lot and not be an alcoholic? ›

Nine in 10 adults who drink too much alcohol are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent, according to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

What is the most crucial step in the treatment of alcoholism? ›

The most crucial step for beginning treatment for alcoholic liver disorder (ALD is to quit drinking completely. Unfortunately, because the body has become dependent on alcohol, the sudden cessation of alcohol may cause painful withdrawal symptoms.

What are the enemies of alcoholics? ›

The greatest enemies of us alcoholics are resent ment, jealousy, envy, frustration, and fear.

What 3 things increase the risk for alcohol use disorder? ›

What Increases the Risk for Alcohol Use Disorder? A person's risk for developing AUD depends in part on how much, how often, and how quickly they consume alcohol. Alcohol misuse, which includes binge drinking and heavy alcohol use, over time increases the risk of AUD.

What are 3 things a person can do to help an alcoholic? ›

How To Help Someone You Know Who Drinks Too Much
  • Step 1: Talk. Talk about your worries when the person is sober. ...
  • Step 2: Offer your help. Suggest activities that don't include drinking alcohol. ...
  • Step 3: Take care of yourself. Caring for someone with alcohol misuse or use disorder can be stressful.

What are the 4 C's of the addiction cycle? ›

These four factors, compulsion, craving, consequences and control, are unique to addiction alone and are classified as the 4 C's. The behaviors of most addicts are very similar.

What's the best treatment for alcoholic? ›

Treatment may involve a brief intervention, individual or group counseling, an outpatient program, or a residential inpatient stay. Working to stop alcohol use to improve quality of life is the main treatment goal. Treatment for alcohol use disorder may include: Detox and withdrawal.

How do I suppress the urge to drink? ›

11 Tips On How to Deal with Urges and Cravings to Drink and Use...
  1. Keep Track.
  2. Avoid Triggers to Drinking (or overdrinking)
  3. Distract yourself.
  4. Question the Urge.
  5. The DISARM method.
  6. Drink Refusal.
  7. Medications.
  8. Meditation.

How long does it take to break a drinking habit? ›

Abstinence Assistance

Regardless of the reason and goal, 30 days of abstinence is the best way to start. Even if the goal is to cut down, abstinence can assist with lowering tolerance to ease moderation of use, and your body could use the break.

Can the liver repair itself after years of drinking? ›

The liver is very resilient and capable of regenerating itself. Each time your liver filters alcohol, some of the liver cells die. The liver can develop new cells, but prolonged alcohol misuse (drinking too much) over many years can reduce its ability to regenerate.

Why do people get mean when they drink? ›

Experts believe the reason some people become aggressive when drunk is due to the way alcohol affects the brain. Binge drinking increases the likelihood of both becoming aggressive or angry and also being on the receiving end of someone else's temper.

What does a drunk mind speak? ›

“A drunk mind speaks a sober heart” is a saying often attributed to French Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jaques Rousseau, himself quite a drunk. The idea is that when we are drunk we lose our inhibitions and allow ourselves to verbalize our true thoughts and feelings, bringing our true personality traits to light.

Why do people say hurtful things when drunk? ›

Alcohol can impair judgment and decision-making skills, leading individuals to say things they wouldn't usually say when sober. In addition, this impairment can cause individuals to be more impulsive and less inhibited, leading to hurtful comments and actions.

What does alcoholic neuropathy feel like? ›

Alcoholic neuropathy involves coasting caused by damage to nerves that results from long term excessive drinking of alcohol and is characterized by spontaneous burning pain, hyperalgesia and allodynia.

What long term effect that an alcoholic Cannot talk and move anymore? ›

dementia-like symptoms, such as difficulties forming new memories. changes in mood or behavior. increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. changes in blood flow patterns in the brain.

What is alcohol dementia called? ›

Alcohol-related 'dementia' or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome will cause them to struggle with day-to-day tasks. This is similar to someone living with dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease.

What are 3 chronic alcoholism is associated with? ›

Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including: High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.

What is the least harmful alcohol to drink? ›

Red wine, whiskey, tequila, and hard kombucha are healthier options than beer and sugary drinks. The CDC recommends you limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day if you're male and 1 if you're female.

What is an incipient alcoholic? ›

People with milder drinking problems who did not meet the two major criteria for alcoholism -- high tolerance and signs of withdrawal -- were either classified as incipient alcoholics and put into inpatient programs, or received no help at all.

Why do alcoholics wake up at 3am? ›

Nobody exactly knows why, Roehrs says. But he and other experts think that brain chemicals that cause wakefulness are somehow stimulated when your body finishes burning off the alcohol in your blood. The process by which your body breaks down alcohol doesn't vary much.

What is alcoholic lung? ›

Alcohol-related lung disease (ARLD) is the medical term for lung damage that develops in response to excessive alcohol consumption. This damage may result from various lung conditions, such as viral infections, pneumonia, and acute lung injury. ARLD is a potential complication of alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Why do alcoholics wake up early? ›

Also, too much alcohol can weaken airway muscles, triggering (or worsening) sleep disturbances like sleep apnea or heavy snoring. When a hangover wakes you up early, it's partly because your body is craving fluids to replace what was lost through the increased urine output.

How many years can an alcoholic survive? ›

Doctors guess that chronic alcohol abuse will lower a person's life expectancy by as many as twelve years. Though many people are aware that alcohol improves the likelihood of liver complications and heart disease, many people do not realize how many other risks alcohol poses.

What is the difference between an alcoholic and an alcohol abuser? ›

Someone who abuses alcohol is not always dependent on it, but continued drinking in the face of problems can ultimately lead to alcohol dependence. To put it simply: alcoholism is alcohol abuse, but alcohol abuse is not necessarily alcoholism.

What are 3 negative behavioral effects of alcohol? ›

Long-term psychological effects:
  • Increased depression and anxiety.
  • Tolerance development and increased substance use.
  • Dependency, otherwise known as alcoholism.
  • Impaired learning and memory capacity.
  • Interrupted brain development.

Is alcohol an ineffective way to deal with the stress of everyday life? ›

Your body has a set of complex systems in place to deal with stress. These systems help manage stress in the short-term and return you back to your normal level of functioning. Adding alcohol to your system throws off the delicate balance, making it harder to return to a healthy point.

Why do people use alcohol to cope with trauma? ›

After a traumatic event, a person may drink to deal with anxiety, depression, and irritability. Typically, alcohol initially seems to relieve these symptoms. When we experience a traumatic event, the brain releases endorphins that help numb the physical and emotional pain of the event.

Is alcohol a crutch? ›

Alcohol is often referred to as a social lubricant because it loosens people up, but the problem is that this benefit can come at a heavy cost – alcohol can give you wings but then take away the sky. Here are just five reasons why you do not need alcohol as a crutch anymore.

Which organ does alcohol affect? ›

Heavy drinking takes a toll on the liver, and can lead to a variety of problems and liver inflammations including: Steatosis, or fatty liver.

What part of the brain is affected first when drinking alcohol? ›

The cerebellum, an area of the brain responsible for coordinating movement and perhaps even some forms of learning, appears to be particularly sensitive to the effects of thiamine deficiency and is the region most frequently damaged in association with chronic alcohol consumption.

What alcohol is best for anxiety? ›

Drinking beer or wine sometimes seems like a helpful way to ease anxiety. This is because alcohol is both a stimulant and a sedative, meaning it can make you feel more energetic and engaged, as well as calm and relaxed.

What drinks calm your nerves? ›

The best stress-relieving drinks include ginger, chamomile tea, valerian, black tea, coconut water, milk, green tea, coffee, lemon balm tea, water, and vegetable and fruit juice. Aromatherapy is another self-soothing practice shown to have benefits for mental health.

Why do people drink when they are stressed? ›

In addition to being associated with negative or unpleasant feelings, cortisol also interacts with the brain's reward or “pleasure” systems. Researchers believe this may contribute to alcohol's reinforcing effects, motivating the drinker to consume higher levels of alcohol in an effort to achieve the same effects.

Why do alcoholics get violent? ›

Direct Effects of Alcohol.

Alcohol may encourage aggression or violence by disrupting normal brain function. According to the disinhibition hypothesis, for example, alcohol weakens brain mechanisms that normally restrain impulsive behaviors, including inappropriate aggression (5).

What medication is used for PTSD and alcoholism? ›

Medications for PTSD and AUD

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs lists four SSRI medications that have been recommended for PTSD: sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), and venlafaxine (Effexor).

Is drinking a trauma response? ›

Painful memories and biochemical changes resulting from trauma can make us more susceptible to alcohol misuse. As a result, a dual diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) can often occur.

What is the gait of an alcoholic? ›

You may have seen an alcoholic gait before. It's an unsteady, staggering walk—but it doesn't necessarily point to an alcoholic losing the ability to walk. The cause of the alcoholic gait is cerebellar ataxia, a type of brain damage.

What is the hardest part of sober? ›

What Is The Hardest Part About Staying Sober?
  • Change Can be Uncomfortable. Change can be scary, no matter the circumstances. ...
  • Facing Peer Pressure and Triggers. This challenge in your sober journey goes hand in hand with the fear of change. ...
  • Dealing with Stress and Emotions. ...
  • The Misconception that Sober = Boring.


1. What Do They Do For Alcoholics In Rehab? | Cornerstone Healing Center
(Cornerstone Healing Center)
2. Alcohol, Alcoholism and the Addicted Brain
(Clayton Behavioral)
3. Wasted: Exposing the Family Effect of Addiction | Sam Fowler | TEDxFurmanU
(TEDx Talks)
4. Stages of Alcoholism
(Zorba Wellness)
5. Bob D. - AA Speaker - "Why I am a Grateful Alcoholic"
(Odomtology 12-Step Recovery Media)
6. Rewriting The Story Of My Addiction | Jo Harvey Weatherford | TEDxUniversityofNevada
(TEDx Talks)
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