Why Are Alcoholics So Mean to the Ones They Love

Alcohol Can Unleash Angry Emotions or Abuse

The relationship between alcoholism and anger is legend. Alcohol abuse can instill a false sense of power that often results in angry outbursts. Being at the wrong end of these outbursts can be very painful. Loved ones of alcoholics can attest to this sad fact. Alcohol seems to steal away the person you know and replace him or her with an angry version.

So, why are alcoholics so mean to the ones they claim to love? What is it about drinking alcohol that stokes such wrath? While hard to not take these angry outbursts to heart, it does help to look at the bigger picture. Think about bar brawls—alcohol and anger seem to go hand in hand. The parties go at it with loud angry rants and thrown punches. By this point they seem to be unaware of their alcoholic rage actions.

As strange as it seems, not all alcoholics are prone to this anger. Some are quite docile, drinking alone until they pass out, meaning no harm to anyone. But those who have a hard time controlling anger when sober can be triggered after a few drinks. They may have poor coping skills for anger control whether or not they are drinking.

Why Are Alcoholics Mean?

It is hard to understand why people who drink too much are so mean to the ones they love. It helps to first grasp the simple fact that people tend to be most cruel to those closest to them. Why is that? There are a few explanations for this phenomenon, including:

  • People lash out at their spouse or partner as a way to release stress. This may feel like a safer target rather than against someone on the road or at work. The loved one becomes a bullseye at which to direct pent up frustration, stoked by alcohol.
  • Some people stuff their feelings, not willing to come out and share when they feel upset or angry. When sober they may feel uncomfortable sharing their partner with their true feelings. But when drinking alcohol they become emboldened, and let their feelings loose.
  • Someone with a drinking problem may seem to be in denial about their alcohol issue. Even with proof of ever mounting problems, they resist admitting the problem.  Just beneath the surface they often feel shame and guilt about their alcoholism. These feelings can bubble up to the surface as anger when they are drinking.

Living With an Angry Alcoholic

People who are closest to the alcoholic take the lion’s share of the abuse. Children of alcoholics become anxious and fearful, never knowing what to expect each day from their parents. Spouses walk on eggshells, always trying to avoid setting off the next angry outburst, or worse, physical attack. The damage done to the mental health of loved ones of alcoholics due to misplaced anger is significant.

Family members go about their days—and years—confused and frustrated, wondering why the person has been so mean. It makes no sense. This is why it’s so important for the loved ones to get help and support. Abuse should not be tolerated, and safe housing must be provided. If an angry alcoholic has abused a loved one, they should not have access to the family. They would need to complete rehab and therapy, even amend legal problems, before being allowed to see them again.

Getting Treatment for Alcoholism

alcoholics and anger

When the time comes that the alcoholic is ready to enter a treatment program they will participate in a variety of different therapies. Rehab will begin with a detox, where the toxins from the alcohol are expelled from the body. This process takes about one week. Once the individual has become stable they will be ready to engage in therapy.

Psychotherapy is the core treatment element in most alcohol rehab programs. Therapy sessions will be offered in both one-on-one and small group formats. CBT is used to help the alcohol focus on making important behavioral changes.

Most rehabs will address how the drinking has hurt the client’s spouse and children by providing couples counseling and family therapy. Anger management and conflict resolution are other coping tools that are often taught in rehab. Treatment helps begin the healing process for both the alcoholic and their loved ones. Those who have suffered verbal or physical abuse at the hands of the alcoholic deserve to be healed.

Capo By the Sea Leading Provider of Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Orange County

Capo by the Sea is a premier residential rehab located in a stunning beach town in South Orange County, California. Offering couples rehab, couples counseling, and family counseling as part of their program, Capo by the Sea helps families heal from the wounds caused by alcoholism. For more information about the program, contact Capo by the Sea today at (888) 529-2114.