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Alcohol And Personality Change

Question:

Hi, I’m wondering about the consumption and an individuals personality. Is it possible that a person becomes someone else, after drinking alcohol? That someone who normally, is mild, can verbally strike out against people who have ‘wronged’ them? How about against individuals who are involved with the ‘wronging individual’? Would someone drinking verbally strike out against them? Wouldn’t they remember, since it would be so against their norm?

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Answer:

You are asking important questions about drinking alcohol because people continue to underestimate the danger that this drug presents when abused. The average person who drinks absorbs alcohol through such things as wine, beer, vodka, gin as well as many other achohol type beverages. Once imbibed, the alcohol is absorbed quickly into the blood stream and directly affects the nervous system including the neurons in the brain.

Once alcohol reaches the brain, which happens almost immediately, it causes the neurons to increase the production of dopamine. Dopamine is a brain neuro chemical that causes feelings of pleasure, particularly in the pleasure centers of the brain near the brain stem. This increase in dopamine is what causes the "high" feeling that all drinkers want to experience. All the recent research indicates that moderate drinking has beneficial health effects for adult men and women. Moderate is defined as no more than one or two glasses of wine or the equivalent in other drinks. Anything beyond one or two drinks results in the more dangerous side effects of alcohol consumption.

One important side effect of drinking more than one or two drinks is that alcohol reduces inhibitions. What this means is that people begin to feel increasingly angry and outspoken as they continue to drink. Discussions quickly turn into arguments and arguments quickly become violent when people go beyond moderate drinking.

The drop in inhibitions also means that, when driving under the influence of even moderate amounts of alcohol, people become more aggressive, take more chances with how they drive and run increased risks of having a serious accident ending in serious injury or death of other people or the driver himself.

What all of this means is that the answer to your question is yes, under the influence of alcohol, even the most mild mannered person can verbally and physically strike out against others whether those people have wronged them or not.

Too many people drink heavily under the mistaken belief that it is harmless and that what happens to others who drink cannot happen to them.

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Comments
  • Anonymous-1

    i don't go out to have a drink, my husband won't take me out, he left me for 6 months in 2002, when he was away from me over the 6months i took to the bottle, i was out of work and when i got my cheque, i bought wine, i drank around 8 bottles a week, but, now 5 yrs later we are together and when i'm alone(he works diffrent shifts) i tend to drink around 3 bottles a week, i guess i'm in a habbit, that i need to get out of. i say to myself,,,,, right i aint gonna drink this week, paul is on early shift,,,,, so when he comes in around 4pm i won't let him kiss me

    he has had a go with me on the drink matter,,,, i try to be good

    i drink diet coke and the odd coffee when i'm alone,,,, but he makes me feel worthless so i go on the wine, like i have today, i just drunk a 75cl bottle of wine, it helps me to stop crying, because of the name calling my husband does

  • Anonymous-2

    Drinking in excess does not lead to anger and unethical inhibitions. That is only an assumption made through contemplation of a generality. Most do not succumb to impetuous behaviour or lashing out in anger when over indulging. Some do. Most don't. This doc must have had a bad experience in the past which leads him to overstate his case.

    Editor's Note: Alcohol is a depressant drug which has its action in part by exciting (turning on) the brain's GABA braking system. GABA is a neurotransmitter that slows the brain down. As the brain starts slowing down, it becomes disinhibited and impetuous, impulsive actions are more likely to occur because the parts of the brain that handle judgement have gone offline. The commenter is correct in suggesting that not all alcohol intoxicated people become angry (some do and some don't), but most all intoxicated people do act more impulsively than normal.

  • Anonymous-3

    My husband is mean and verbally abusive to me when he drinks. Insults belittling and very hurtful things come out of his mouth. I actually am so appalled that I freeze while his bitter insults act like knives that are stabbing me. He uses sadnesses and losses in my life as weapons against me. The things that he knows I've been through are used to hurt me. He tells me how he was so much happier before he met me and that I am a terrible mother and that everyone thinks that I am not good enough for him. Then he starts bragging about former girlfriends. I have done an awful lot for him over the past 6 years that we have been together and I have stood by him through legal and financial problems. Are these his true feelings that are coming out when he drinks?

  • Eric Joel Neifert, M.A

    Hi,

    I'm a therapist myself in a small outpatient clinic in the northeast. Although there is no official behavioral diganosis for severe personailty changes other than intoxication, abuse,.... diagnosis of an individual who has consumed alcohol, I can tell you this. I've personally witnessed a woman, of 27, a mother, and generally good person turn into a wild animal after 1/2 a glass of Merlot. She assaulted someone. It was a very scary scene. if that helps.

  • John

    My wife is usually a verey sweet, highly intelligent person. When she drinks and in particular red wine she completely transforms. She becomes another person. She hallucinates. She is furiouslly enraged. She has been arrested a few times and many other times I have convinced the police to let me take care of her. She can be in a rage for 10 to 18 hours screaming at the top of lungs swearing she is being raped and abused. It appears that she is just like her father. He was an alocoholic that died long before I met her. He was a child molester who molested her and her siblings. She is the only functional member in her family. Red wine seems to set her off faster than anything. There is no talking with her about this as the person that has these episodes is not the person that is normally there and she has no memory of the events. To her it was a fun time and then she went to bed. The hours and hours of horrible crying that changes into rage is completely not there in her memory the next day. The only signs that it occured are when she breaks things or coming out of it in jail or in the hospital. Even then she believes it did not happen as described but that they came to abuse her. I have tried to tell her to go to bed and go to sleep and she looks at me and says "I am asleep" It is for me being in another persons nightmare literally. She would be really mad if she knew I was writing this but this condition must not be just with her. We were told by one psychiatrist that taking xanax and drinking can cause this. It tooks us months to get off the xanax. That did help but this had occurred before she took xanax. It is really scary.

  • JR

    I like to think that when in the full of my mind, I am, on the whole, a mild, humorous, polite, reasonably pleasant individual. My opinion is confirmed, on the whole, by family, colleagues, and friends. I know that when I am (have been) drunk, I can be an angry, spiteful, bitter verbally abusive monster. This opinion is also confirmed, principally by my wife and family. It is just one of the reasons why I have not had a drink in quite some considerable time.

    I am not sure that I would say that the contrast indicated above is a result of a "personality change". The personality is, after all, there, and all there, all the time. It is more as if a side of me, of which I am hardly aware in the normal course, is let loose without fetter - the reduction in inhibitions to which the doctor refers, perhaps ? Perhaps it reflects unresolved "issues" at a more fundamental level ? Well, whatever - I am convinced that for me, the effect is real - even if (and actually it is no "if") - I cannot really remember my "Mr Hyde" episodes myself others generally had to do my remembering for me.

    One can, of course, have bad reactions to taking medications like Xanax (I have taken it myself, and had none). It is, perhaps, possible to have bad reactions to the particular trace elements in red wine. I would be more inclined to think, however, that the "personality change" in the earlier post is a poisonous reaction to an excess of alcohol as such on the brain. For people (like me) who find it impossible to avoid such excess, once they drink at all, adopting a strategy to cut out the drinking, altogether, might be indicated. Hard, but true. Been there, done that - and emerged much happier.

    Wishing everybody who has this problem all the very best for a full recovery (difficult, I know, but possible),

    JR

  • LD

    I have this problem. It doesn't happen all the time but the times that it does happen, I lash out at my boyfriend and he ends up feeling dazed and confused as to what just happened. The night starts out pretty good and as I keep drinking, some buried issue that I have with him or something that he does that I don't like will turn me into a very angry and sometimes emotional person.

    I really am not sure what to do. I've gotten a lot better with communication because I realize that if I keep things inside it will just burst out when we go out drinking, but the last time it happened I really had no idea I had any issues with him. I don't want to completely quit drinking because there have been times when nothing bad happens and I would really like to solve this problem rather than avoid it if I can. I'm thinking of going to a psychiatrist or therapist because I no longer want to be this kind of person when I drink. Do you have any suggestions?

  • Anonymous-4

    This comment is to "LD" who had written in 2008, your paragraph is word for word how I am feeling and also exactly what "happens to me as well". I am not addicted to alcohol, and do not feel the need to keep drinking once I start, nor do I drink every day, etc. I enjoy alcohol and do not always get angry or attack people when drinking. However, it does happen just as you described, angry episodes where I attack my loved ones and say really mean things and become someone I'm not proud of. I've been very confused about how to handle it, and how to stop the "little monster". Did you get anywhere or get any good suggestions on how to handle it?

  • Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

    Hi "Amazing,"

    Everyone reacts differently to alcohol. There are some people who can drink all they want, when they want to, and never get angry or depressed. There are others who get angry very quickly and who cannot stop drinking once they stop. Then, there are people like you who get angry some of the time.

    To answer your question, as far as I know at this time, the only things you can do is one of two: 1. Refrain from drinking if you are in a bad mood before you started. 2. Just do not drink, because, you may run the risk of getting angry and abusive.

    Also, please remember, one does not have to be an "alcoholic" to develop a problem. Sometimes, a person can become dependent on alcohol without the full addiction. In my opinion, both personal and professional, it is better to refrain from alcohol use, (for someone like you) unless there is a very special occasion.

    Dr. Schwartz

  • crooksy13

    I`m more likely to get angry,if i haven`t had a drink.

    My wife on the other hand,normally a kind sweet person,drinks white rum when were out, most of the time she`s fine, but if she drinks to much too quick, she initially gets euphoric, then very angry screaming and swearing and then when she reaches a peak, she gets upset with her self, cry`s uncontrolably, swears she never drink again,sleeps it off and the next day doesn`t like to talk about it.

    I now try to read the signs and persuade her we go home before she reaches the point of no return !

  • Hyde

    It's very weird how different types of alcholic beverages effect me. One or two drinks and I'm fine. But after that something happens that seems to literally take over my regular thinking process and I momentarily become an entirely different person saying and doing things that I won't be able to recall doing. So my limit nowadays be no more than one or two drinks a day and maybe less in the future as the body is always changing.

  • Anonymous-5

    When I drink I am fine until I hit a certain point. That point is when I've had far too much, and can't remember a thing the next day. I say things and do things that I don't understand. I once told a friend while I was at this stage of intoxication that I never had a father figure and I was crying. In reality that couldn't be furthur from the truth. I'm sometimes violent at this point too. I say things I don't understand. It really unerves me. I have no explaination for some of the things I have done, such as punching a lightpole and accusing random people of trying to kill me. It's like I'm a different person, a crazy person. I'd like an explanation. Am I truly crazy on the inside?

  • Mike D

    I have this irritating problem of getting to a certain point of drinking and starting fights, not all the time but a lot. I can hardly remember what initates most of the fights but I know it's me. I can recall the last time however. I walked out of the bar and said Hey Fugly to a black guy walking down the street and then he looked at me with this attitude and I shoved him. I always get my ass kicked when I do this because I never want to fight back. I mean what the hell is that about?..lol. I've had my nose broken head split open, you name it. I'm sitting here now typing this with two black eyes, a broken nose and thumb but other then I'm great. I find humor in all things so I'm writing this with a smirk but I mean damn. Can't I drink and avoid that?

  • Dutch

    It's all a bunch of crap..I have been dealing with alcoholics all my life. I just seem to attract them. I don't know why. I am a nurse and a caregiver, so it must be that. I get rid of my ex because he is an alcoholic, not abusive or anything but just life to him is one big party after another. That is not a lifestyle I wanted my children to think is normal. And it was a good choice, my children are stable except for the normal day to day issues everyone has in their life that can be dealt with. Well now I have been seeing someone for almost two years now that my kids are grown and low and behold he is an alcoholic. In the beginning he didn't show major signs and we had a great time the first year and then gradually till it has become an epidemic now he is a full blown alcoholic drinking every night, mentally abusive, doesn't remember anything, looks different, talks different. Here is someone I love but also hate at the same time. and the hate is taking over the love lately. He turns me off when he drinks so much and says stupid things that don't make sense and he thinks is funny. And he stumbles and wallks into things that is so unnattractive. He doesn't remember anything he says or does the next day..So to me why the hell bother with someone like that. obviously if you had a special moment or something important to tell him and you think he is listening, he is not. He just doesn't remember. So please stop using excuses about your husband doing or saying things to you, for an excuse to drink wine during the day. Look at the things kevin says to me, I don't go for drinking, I just say he has a freakin problem, not me. It's his problem why should I bring myself down to his level. I am so sick of alcoholics. They are so stupid..if maybe they were video taped and seen how stupid they act. That is if you can catch them in a sober state to actually show them the video, I guarantee maybe they may be embarrassed. I know keven when he is not drinking is a different caring person and feels like an ass when I tell him things he has said to me. Well you know what I really don't want to be bothered with people like this anymore. I told him how I felt about his drinking and how he acts. He is in denial and doesnt believe me. and then tells me he drinks because of me. Yeah right..he is 48 years old I just started dating him 2 years ago..I told him please you had this problem way before I met you and it has just esculated because your too damn stupid to know when you have someone actually good in your life that cares about your health to tell you you are out of control. No!!! You don't drink because of me, you drink because you have a problem and deep seeded issues you need to deal with that happened long before you met me. Just stop using excuses for yourselves and blaming other people. how do you not know you have a problem when you can't remember anything that happened the next day. That would scare the piss out of me. I would definately do something about that. I am a registered nurse and see what happens to these alcoholics after many years of abuse and denial. it get's them around 55 to 61 with lots of damage to the liver and all the complications that go along with it. It is really sad, because these people dont want to die, but it's too late and guess what while they are in the hospital with a horrific diagnosis, they can no longer drink and yes they go through withdrawal but once their over it they say they wished they had quit long ago. But hey guess what too late. I do feel sorry for them, because sober, they 'are nice people and I delve into their past and it's all about the abuse they sustained from parents, dysfunctional upbringing. Well guess what there is help available to get over those things. Just deal with the real underlying issue for God's sake. It just pisses me off. I have deal with a lot of issues myself during my lifetime that were not so pleasant and you know what I did? I went to a therapist and talked it out not just one time, but over a course of a couple years. it was the best thing I did for myself. I not only took care of my issues but had the tools to deal with future issues. STOP THE Denial and the drinking..STOP THE EXCUSES...

  • Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

    Mike D. and Dutch,

    1. Mike: You cannot continue to drink and avoid getting into those angry episodes. You are among many other people who become angry when you drink. Yes, there are people who drink and do not become angry. Its a matter of genetics, the nervous system and brain chemicals. Don't want to get angry?, Don't drink!

    Dutch,

    It is good that you spoke to a therapist for a couple of years. However, in my opinion, your therapy is not done because you continue to choose people with alcohol problems. There is some pattern that you are repeating and you are not aware of it but it keeps on happening. You need to uncover the pattern so you can change it and stop choosing people with ETOH problems.

    Dr. Schwartz

  • pete

    I recently had a bad experience with drinking heavily. I became so drunk that my personality changed and I became really angry to the point that I threatend my wife, which got me thrown out of the house. My wife is a big drinker, she likes to drink Vodka drinks, she told me to stay away from hard liquor because it makes me drunk really fast. Last couple of times when i became drunk, i could not remember anything, including this last time that got me thrown out of the house and most likely will lead to a divorce. Afterwards I feel horrible about what i said and what happend, but i am still responsible for becomming drunk. People that watch me when i drink heavily say the more I drink, the more I drink, wich eventually leads to a black out and a profound personallity change.In the past it happend on occasion, but for the most part i am a peaceful drunk, but a drunk nevertheless. I cant predict how things are going to go, it's like a Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde syndrome.

    I am fine if I only have 2 or 3 drinks, but if I drink to get drunk, all bets are off.

    What should I do? Some poeple say I am a hopeless alcoholic, others say that I just need to learn how to control it. The problem is, once I get past the point of no return, all bets are off.

    Help!!!!

  • Sherie

    I'm writing about my Son, He was in prison for 5 years for home invassion. He got out less then a year ago, He has had a lot of girlfreinds eveyone of them when He gets drunk He get a blank look on his face and he won't look you in the eyes when he is like that, He gets like a film over his eyes and it's like he is possesed. He only gets like that when He drinks Liquor. He is back in Prison for stabbing someone in the back twice. He is a get person when He is sober, I don't know what is driving him to act like this. He don't remember anything the next day. Please Help me???? Thank you

  • Jane

    If I drink too much I can't trust myself. I need a breathalyzer on my phone and computer to stop me from sending emails, texts and posting ignorant stuff on facebook. I even lost my job because I sent drunk rants to my boss and even was stupid enough to cc her boss and a few other people. When I wake up and see what I have done I am horrified, scared, paranoid, worried about the consequences, yet I haven't quit drinking. Why? Because I can drink just one, I can drink 2, I don't drink every day, only once or twice a week, and so usually nothing comes of it. But never fails, eventually I get trashed and turn into this Hyde character. When that happens I wake up and wonder, what did Hyde do, and I am afraid to even go look at what texts I sent, what emails I sent, who I called and left drunken voicemail messages to, or whatever other ignorant stuff. I guess it would be easier to decide I needed to stop drinking if it happened each and every time I drink, or if I drank everyday, but the fact that most of the time my drinking goes without problems, I forget about all the times when I turn into Hyde. It is just too unpredictable and it does scare me that maybe I will get that drunk again and Hyde will lose my job for me again, or do something to really ruin my life. I don't know what I would do without alcohol though because I drink out of boredom. I don't have family or friends that ever hang around me. Every communication I have with others is just on the phone or internet.

  • Andrew

    Really, you have to get past the alcohol. Take it from me. I am losing my wife because of alcohol.

    I become a different guy when I drink, and there is no doubt that I am addicted to whatever feeling alcohol gives me. Not so addicted I have physical withdrawal symptoms, but addicted to the tension relief (phony) that alcohol provides me.

  • Numb

    My daughter cannot drink alcohol. I mean not even a teaspoon. She becomes a monster. She insults and is mean to all. She even looks like she is in drugs. I wonder if there is something else more than the a common case of alcoholism. Maybe a reaction, an enzyme deficiency. Please if you know what I am talking about, or may have a hint of what i am guessing please let me know. Thank you.

  • Linda Lou

    Recently me and my husband went to vegas and the first day partied pretty hard drank 2 bottles of margarita's (already mixed with tequila) we woke up again at 1:30 am and started all over again. Later that night about 12 hours later after drinking the entire time Vodka he was then pushing me around and hitting me with a bag that had a bottle of alcohol in it...when we got back to the hotel where we were staying he body slammed me on the bed because i tried moving him because he was so drunk sitting on the floor and said i pushed him into the wall? He didn't punch me but was very violent and saying things that are totally outta Character for him. He looked me in the eyes and told me hated me and pressed me down on the bed and it really scared me and i started crying and had a panic attack. ( I already have panic attacks on a regular) When this happenned he just tormented me until he went to sleep =( now he is so sorry and I know this isnt the normal him....but its a him that came out. I just dont know what to do...is it possible he had alcohol poisioning ? He is a fairly big guy so i assumed that if I was ok drinking the same amount and time then he would be? Hind Sight is 20/20...and I wouldnt drink so much in excess again but I just dont know that to do =( Please give me your opinion...he does come from a family that are alcoholics but he is the furthest from an alcoholic...he normally only drinks 1-2 beers to relax or if socially drinking has 1 or 2 drinks =( Please Help....I am really really considering Divorce and I do love him =( & we have kids together.

  • Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

    Hello Linda Lou,

    The fact that your husband comes from an alcoholic family means that he should not be drinking and that he should never drink the amounts that you describe. He is very volnerable to becoming addicted to alcohol. He is also a man who, under the influence of alcohol, loses his inhibitions. You may not want to divorce if this is the only time it has happened. However, if this happened more than once then I can understand why you would go for divorce.

    Having said that, it is still very worrisome that he was physically abusive, whether drunk or not. Perhaps the two of you need marriage therapy in addition to him going for alcohol treatment. There are several good programs the most famous being Alcoholics Anonymous. However, there are others.

    You husband should not drink...ever.

    Dr. Schwartz

  • Mark

    When I over drink, I turn from a wonderful kind gentle person to a abusive monster. It usually takes 5+ drinks, but I only abuse my partner and never anyone else. I belive that this is because of trauma Ive been through in the past and some relationship problems with my parter. I went to a physiciatrist for help and she persribed wellbutran and seraquill and is not adding lamitrogine. All of this medicine scares me but I want to know if it will help stop the mania abusive attacks if I happen to slip up and over drink whil with my parter. Please help me, I dont want to loose my parter and I want to stop abusing but my partner and I are involved with pool leagues at bars where there is alchol present. My goal is to have just a few drinks to get that loosed up feeling and then stop. I dont want to get too drunk. Will these medicines help me?

    I'm desperate. Please please help me. My dr is awar that I drink twice a week with my partner so I'm thinking that these medicines will help stop the attacks.

    Please advise. I'm a very hurting person who is one of the kindest people you can meet.

    Thank you so much for your help and advise.

    Mark

  • Anonymous-6

    I have an aunt who has become an angry drunk. She drinks all the time while awake. If she is stuck in an environment where she can not drink for several hours she begins sweat and talk about how everone is out to get her. She comes in to work every day attacks as many people as possible, argues that everyone is treating her unfairly, and storms out. Sometimes, customers are confronted, attacked, and even leave in tears.

    She has two daughters who have detailed stories about living good lives in the woods, where they can not be contacted. The stories may be true or they live in the same state and use it as cover. Either way, I suspect that they are essentially afraid for their lives. She has one son who has a stict do not call, do not visit policy. Her mom is an awesome and energetic women, but lives in a retirement community. Her three sisters have also given up on her. All that is left is her brother. He is like her iron shield. She lives with him. He provides food and work. At work he commonly comes up with elaborate stories to protect her and even damages computers to try and prove her stories true.

    For about a decade now she has been building on stories about going to college. Most of the time she gets key details wrong. Such as talking about being at class on spring or easter break. This is where the problem grows a lot worse. A year ago I achieved credentials in the industry. It was the off season and I was out of the office for a couple weeks. Late one night I went in to print out some documents for school. She proceded follow me into the office and attack me for around thirty minutes. All kinds of elaborate stories about how I was fired. I was trapped and had to listen to her until she left, so I could lock up.

    On many occasions, I have tried my hardest to talk things through with the owner/my dad/her brother. He will generalize the conversation and avoid the subject. He usually ends with something like you have to help her. As if to say, "she doesn't need help, it is me who has to help her attack people." With in the next couple years she has completely run out of room to lie. Others will be completing degree programs that she has been claiming to take for over a decade. I am in a situation where I am forced to continue working there, until after this massive episode is doomed to take place.

    Do you think she will start killing people? Any suggestions on what could be done?

  • ACEE

    im 21 years old, i never use to be this person when i drink.. ive become this self distruction person when im drunk. i get drunk really easy and i started to be suicidal, hit my partner, and say these things i would never say to hurt people and just plain stupid things id never hear my self saying. i dont know what it is, or whats wrong with me .. its very odd and not myself.

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