why do people get angry when they drink

Brain scans have revealed the real reason why two vodka lemonades can make you more aggressive. Scientists in Australia were carrying out MRI scans on volunteers to try to learn more about the strong correlation between booze and aggressive behavior. Researchers gave a group of 50 healthy young men two drinks containing vodka, lemonade and tonic waters. Some of the men were given placebo drinks without alcohol but were not aware they were not drinking. Brain scans on drinking participants showed a marked difference between the two groups in the area of the brain that controls aggression, the prefrontal cortex. In those who had the two vodka mixers, their prefrontal cortex was shown to be dampened, while those drinking the placebo remained unchanged. The results, published in, state that the prefrontal cortex puts the brakes on aggressive behavior.


This means alcohol reduces your brain s ability to stop the behavior that can fuel aggression. The brain scans showed the different areas of the brain affected by alcohol. Cognitive, Affective Behavioural Neuroscience
Heavy alcohol consumption is known to play a part in between 35 percent and 60 percent of crimes, the University of New South Wales study noted. The men were also provoked once inside the MRI scanner by being told they would be competing in a competitive time-sensitive task. Scientist Dr. Thomas Denson, who was leading the study, commented: These regions may support different behaviors, such as peace versus aggression, depending on whether a person is sober or intoxicated. Denson said such studies could eventually substantially reduce alcohol-related harm by offering a curb to the effect of booze.


The study concluded: Among intoxicated participants, but not among sober participants, aggressive behavior was positively correlated with activation in the medial and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The study concludes that further larger-scale investigations could eventually substantially reduce alcohol-related harm. Getting drunk increases the risk for violent behavior, but only for people who have a strong tendency to suppress feelings of anger when sober, a new Scandinavian study suggests. While previous studies have found a link between drinking and aggressive or violent actions, many of these were either performed in a laboratory, which does not necessarily reflect what real-world drunkenness, or based on surveys from a single time period. Studies carried out over a longer time provide a better clue as to whether drinking actually causes violence, or the behavior is instead due to other factors, such as personality traits.


The new study was based on surveys from nearly 3,000 adolescents and young adults in Norway. The participants were assessed twice, first at 16-17 years of age and again at ages 21-22. The subjects were asked how frequently they engaged in ( during the past 12 months, have you had so much to drink that you felt clearly intoxicated? ), and in violent behaviors ( during the past 12 months, have you been in a fight? ) Several survey items also gauged their tendency to suppress anger, including I m often angrier than I am willing to admit, I often boil inside, even if it doesn t show. Among individuals who reported a high inclination to suppress feelings of anger, a 10-percent increase in was associated with a 5-percent increase in violence.


So those who held in their anger were more likely to get drunk and that drunkenness was linked to an increase in the likelihood of getting into a brawl. The researchers observed no such association among those who did not habitually suppress their angry feelings. Only a tiny fraction of all drinking events involve violence, the researchers write in the June 21 issue of the journal Addiction. And whether intoxicated aggression is likely to occur seems to depend on the drinkers propensity to withhold angry feelings when sober. Those with pent-up rage might act violently, because drinking alcohol can result in loss of self-control, the researchers say. The study was carried out by researchers at the Swedish Institute for Social Research, and the Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research.

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