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You know the types. There’s the silly drunk. There’s the crying drunk. And then there’s the guy everyone tries to avoid: the angry, mean drunk.

While people respond to alcohol in different ways, new research published in the peer-reviewed journal Psychopharmacology shows that in heavy drinkers, alcohol can fuel feelings of aggression, making them “mean” drunks.

Drinking linked to aggression

Researchers in the Netherlands dosed a group of heavy drinkers (defined as 21 to 50 drinks a week for men and 15 to 35 drinks a week for women) to a 0.08 BAC and asked them to complete a series of tests, including viewing pictures of aggressive and violent behavior and playing a competitive computer game. Participants were asked to score how aggressive they felt before drinking and the tests, and then again afterward. The same group repeated the test at a later time without being intoxicated.

While the heavy drinkers reported some feelings of aggression after the tests while sober, those feelings were stronger after consuming alcohol. In addition, the researchers concluded that aggression was likely to further increase the more intoxicated a subject became. However, a similar link between aggression and moderate drinkers has not been found.

Violent crime and alcohol

The study confirms previous research linking chronic, heavy drinking to aggression, and this link is a real concern for public safety. Statistics show that 40% of all violent crimes involve alcohol, and two-thirds of domestic violence victims report that their abuser had been drinking. This research may provide additional insights into managing hardcore drinkers in the criminal justice system.

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up: A blog about drunk driving, alcohol addiction, and criminal justice, is anything but a corporate blog. Sobering Up is an opportunity for anyone interested or involved in the issues of drunk driving, alcohol-fueled crime, alcohol dependence and addiction, and the justice system to participate in the conversation.

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