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How to Deal With an Angry Drunk

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

March 11, 2024 (Originally Published)

May 21, 2024 (Last Updated)

Table of Contents

An angry drunk, sometimes known as a mean drunk, is a term used to describe someone prone to angry outbursts after consuming alcohol.

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Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that impairs decision-making. It leads to a loss of self-control, especially after periods of binge drinking.

Why is it that some people are unable to control their anger when drunk, then?

Why Do People Get Angry When Drunk?

This study examines the link between alcohol and aggression by studying MRI scans to analyze changes in the brain. Researchers found a reduction in activity in the prefrontal cortex. This is the area of the brain associated with cognitive functioning, working memory, and inhibition. Researchers also found that self-awareness decreased in some men after drinking, and hostility increased.

This national study found that alcohol was a factor in 40% of reported domestic violence incidents. This shows an obvious connection between alcohol and anger.

How to Deal With an Angry Drunk Person

Dealing with an angry drunk person can be challenging and requires a calm, composed approach. First and foremost, take measures to ensure your safety and that of others around you. If the situation feels threatening, immediately seek help or leave the area.

If your loved one is exhibiting signs of alcoholism, call our friendly recovery team for help getting them into rehab at 866.330.9449.

When engaging with an angry drunk person, maintain a calm and non-confrontational demeanor. Speak in a soft, soothing tone to avoid escalating the situation. It’s important to listen and show empathy. You should also avoid arguing or trying to reason with them, as their judgment and comprehension may be impaired.

Create a safe and comfortable environment by reducing anything that may agitate them, like loud music or bright lights. If possible, gently guide them to a quiet and secure place where they can sit down and relax.

Offer support and assistance, but respect their personal space and boundaries. Avoid physical contact unless absolutely necessary for their safety. If the person is willing, provide them with water and encourage them to rest.

If the situation becomes uncontrollable or the person’s behavior poses a risk to anyone, contact emergency services. Your priority should always be the safety and well-being of everyone involved.

What Is a Mean Drunk?

A "mean drunk" is another way of saying "angry drunk". It means that a person tends to lose control of their emotions when drunk and become volatile and enraged easily. This can often be a result of affected brain function from alcohol, rather than simply a personality issue that makes a person angry when drunk. 

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How to Deal With an Angry Drunk Spouse

If you are concerned about your immediate safety, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline now at 800-799-7233.

Violence can occur in all types of relationships, from casual dating relationships to long-term partnerships to marriages. If you’re experiencing this in your own relationship, you may be wondering how to deal with an angry drunk spouse. 

The best way to deal with an angry drunk is to not engage with them while they are intoxicated if possible

They will not be in their right mind, and you are unlikely to get a rational response at all, so attempts are often futile.

Research indicates that the chance of dating violence including physical aggression increases with alcohol. The same was discovered to apply to sexual aggression, even in males with otherwise fair anger management skills.

If your spouse is an angry drunk, you should not suffer in silence. Alcoholism is a disease rather than a failing, and it is also treatable. If you help resources like Alcoholics Anonymous offers support for friends and family members of alcoholics. 

The smartest bet is to remove yourself from the situation. Engage with your loved one when they are sober.

From there, voice your concerns about their anger and aggression when drunk. Try to remain objective and keep emotion out of the equation. Give specific examples of the behaviors that are unsettling you.

You should take sensible steps to avoid placing yourself in situations with an angry drunk. 

If you feel your loved one needs professional help to stop drinking, it is probably best to seek professional help.

That being said, there is angry drunk psychology that explains why your loved one may be an aggressive drunk person. 

Angry Drunk Psychology

The effects of alcohol directly impact the body and mind. By increasing anger issues and reducing emotional control, the ability to resolve conflict without violence is impaired.

Studies show that consuming alcohol impairs the following:

  • Reasoning
  • Memory
  • Judgment

Alcohol consumption also causes insomnia. Insomnia leads to sleep deprivation which can, in turn, lead to aggressive behavior as well.

Overall, the psychology behind an angry drunk can be broken down into a number of different factors. These can include things like reduced emotional control, increased impulsivity, and reduced patience. All of these things can work together and cause a person to demonstrate extreme anger or aggressiveness.

It can be true that a person who is naturally aggressive may become more difficult to deal with when they are intoxicated. That said, the problem can also be solely related to alcohol consumption.


Why Am I an Angry Drunk?

Drinking and excessive alcohol use affects people in a number of different ways. For some it may be suppressed anger that is sparked when they drink alcohol. Regardless of the situation, the best thing you can do is seek treatment and counseling so you don't hurt yourself or others.

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Getting Help for an Angry Drunk at Renaissance Recovery

If you have an alcohol use disorder, you may have found outbursts of anger are causing problems in your life. At our treatment program, you can work to learn to stop being aggressive when drunk. We offer a supportive community and evidence-based program to help. 

Here at Renaissance Recovery Center, we specialize in the outpatient treatment of alcohol use disorder. Before you begin one of our evidence-based treatment programs, you’ll need to first detox from alcohol. If you need help accessing a medical detox center, we can connect you with suitable facilities near you.

In addition to regular outpatient programs (OPs), we also provide intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) and partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) for anyone who needs more support and structure throughout their recovery.

Our treatment programs offer individual and group counseling, dual diagnosis treatment for mental health, medication, assisted treatment, and more.

When you complete your treatment here at our alcohol rehab, we’ll ensure you have all the right level of aftercare in place to promote sustained sobriety.

If your loved one is exhibiting signs of alcoholism, call our friendly recovery team for help getting them into rehab at 866.330.9449.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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