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Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde

  • Asks ...

    Hi, within the last few years I have noticed my anger has gotten noticeably worse. Especially when I'm after consuming alcohol. I've found myself saying awful and terrible things to my boyfriends and friends when I'm after alcohol. There has been three times that iv arrived home after a night of drinking and out of nowhere iv started verbally abusing my boyfriend for absolutely no reason saying horrible things that I wouldn't even dream of saying when I'm sober. the worst part is that I don't even mean the things that I'm saying yet i still end up saying them? My dad is quite an angry man who holds a grudge against everyone and iv always made sure that I don't end up like him by thinking positively and not being judgemental however when I'm drunk I seem to explode? And I don't bottle things up either because if myself and my boyfriend ever have an argument were both extremely open and honest with how we feel. I would appreciate any feedback as I don't want to put my boyfriend or my friends through this again and it scares me how I can turn into a different person and be so unpredictable without being able to control myself. Thank you

  • Dr. Mark Abrahams Says ...
    Dr.  Mark Abrahams

    What you are describing is all too common with people who react badly under the disinhibiting effects of alcohol. I do not want to bore or confuse you with a lesson neuroanatomy, but there are subcortical structures in our brains - parts of the brain under the surface that are responsible for basic mammalian emotions. In connection to one of these organelles, the Hypothalamus, my physiology professor referred to them as the  "Four Fs" - Feeding, Fighting, Fleeing, and Mating :-)  

     All humor aside, anger is a primal emotion that serves a survival need. Two of these 'Fs' have to do with the 'Fight or Flight response' which prepares us to defend ourselves or run away from danger, but for some people whose higher brain functions become overwhelmed by alcohol, these subcortical emotional responses surface when they don't need to. The anger that goes along with these unwarranted emotional responses can be tinged with paranoia, which when verbalized becomes all manner of false accusations and name-calling. 

    The truth is that many people cannot tolerate alcohol. Perhaps their genetic disposition (which can be tested) does not metabolize the alcohol as quickly or efficiently as others, so that they (you) cannot under any circumstance match your drinking partner's rate of consumption. The harder truth is that you may realize that you should not drink hard liquor AT ALL. It is less likely that wine or beer will result in the same kind of abreaction as hard liquor, although if you consume those in large enough amounts the same negative results are likely to occur. 

    Without intending to sound judgemental, I would nevertheless suggest that you reflect on why you are drinking to the point of drunkenness instead of a condition 'pleasant' inebriation. If you find that you are unable to control your alcohol consumption without negative consequences, you may have to consider complete abstinence, and if complete abstinence seems completely unacceptable, you will then have to consider the that you have an alcohol use disorder.




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