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How To Deal With An Angry Drunk

Most people are aware that intoxicated people are not the easiest to be around, especially if they become mean when drinking. With the right techniques and tools, you don’t need to let an angry drunk ruin your night.

Different Types of Drunks

A 2015 study published in Addiction Research & Theory describes the “four types of drunks.” This study collected, explored, and applied evidence on different personalities that surface when people are drinking. Researchers surveyed 187 pairs of undergraduate students who drank together often and knew how their “drinking buddy” behaved when intoxicated. These participants were asked how often and how much they usually drank. The students reported on any unpleasant consequences from drinking, like poor school performance, weak work ethic, regrettable sex, or needing a drink first thing in the morning.

The participants were asked to describe what they believe they are like when they are drunk. They then assessed their partner’s assessments and contradicted them if necessary. Researchers used the “big five” personality traits, also known as the OCEAN model. This model offers a suggested taxonomy, or grouping, for personality traits, and was developed in the 1980s in psychological trait theory. The five traits are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

Different Drunk Personalities

  • The first personality category identified in the study is the “Ernest Hemingway Type.” Based on the novelist, The Hemingway drunk has a reputation of being impervious to alcohol. This personality type includes people who behave the same whether inebriated or sober – their temperament does not noticeably change. When these individuals are sober, they are about average across the five personality metrics. Unlike other people, these individuals’ levels of intellect and conscientiousness are altered less.
  • The “Mary Poppins” drinker is very agreeable when sober, and remains just as agreeable when drunk. When drunk, their levels of conscientiousness and intellect decrease a little.
  • The “Nutty Professor Type” experiences an increase in extroversion, diverging from their usual quiet temperaments. These individuals become much less conscientious after just a few drinks. Such individuals are introverted when sober, but become the life of the party when they are drunk.
  • Lastly, there is the “Mr. Hyde Type.” These drinkers experience an increase in hostility, among other altered tendencies. The “Mr. Hyde” personality type is most common among the mean drunks.

The “Mr. Hyde” disposition is named for the troublesome alter-ego of Dr. Jekyll. People with this personality type experience decreased mindfulness, intellect, and agreeableness when they’re under the influence. In contrast to when they are sober, they become less responsible, less intellectual, and increasingly hostile.

There’s little correlation between the personality categories and the frequency or amount of drinking. The researchers noticed that when they looked at the consequences reported by the drinkers, the members of the Mr. Hyde category experienced the most problems related to their drinking habits, followed by the Hemingways. The Mr. Hyde group had the most women in it.

These personality categories don’t encapsulate all of the possible characteristics of drunk behavior. Having an unpleasant “drunk personality” could be an indication of a drinking problem. The purpose of the study was to create baseline assessments of “drunk personalities.” These assessments have the potential to be used by clinicians to help problem drinkers understand underlying issues. Researchers believe that evaluating clients’ unique ‘drunk personality profiles’ could provide a personalized link between their drinking episodes and the subsequent problems. It could potentially open the door for a tailored discussion about how their drinking, personality expression, and drunken behaviors are intertwined.

Dealing with An Angry Drunk

It’s exhausting to spend time with someone who frequently becomes hostile or provocative when intoxicated. It can destroy not only your night out but your self-esteem as well. There are ways to cope and protect yourself from someone who experiences a 180-degree shift in their personality after drinking. The easiest way to protect yourself is to leave the situation. When the “angry drunk” is a family member or a loved one, leaving them angry at the bar is not the best way to handle the situation. Keeping calm, taking deep breaths, and avoiding escalating things is the best plan of action. These techniques may help them calm down and listen to you.

Introducing a distraction can de-escalate an alcohol-induced conflict. In a study on how people manage anger, researchers learned that self-focused rumination usually worsened an individuals’ mood, but distractions diffused negative emotion. If the angry drinker is getting into trouble with someone else, it’s a good idea to remove them from the environment and take them away from the conflict.

Wait until the person is sober to have a calm and honest conversation about the issue. It may help them in coming to terms with their behavior and combating the effects of their actions. Being sober helps the individual to be more receptive to your feedback. It may be helpful to describe how you feel about their behavior and tell them that you want to skip outings if they keep drinking and acting inappropriately. It’s important to avoid judgment or any accusatory language that could make them defensive. With kindness and empathy, it’s possible to have a productive discussion and take steps for your loved one to move forward.

Dealing with an angry inebriated person is difficult. Understanding that every individual is different and that there are many factors that contribute to people’s unique drunk personality is important. It’s essential to have patience, empathy, and confidence when dealing with an angry drunk.

At Boardwalk Recovery Center, we understand that the individual with the drinking problem is not the only one that is impacted, and we support family members and friends with ideas and ways of coping with the problem behavior.

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