Anger and booze don't mix!
June 15, 2004
Washington

Researchers have discovered that people with high levels of anger and low anger control should not drink alcohol, as these individuals are more likely to commit alcohol-related aggression.

Trait anger, which is the tendency of a human being to get angry very easily and very frequently, has been identified as a risk factor for alcohol related aggression. However, possessing high levels of trait anger does not always mean that a drunken person will become furious if provoked.

According to a study on alcoholism, a person's inability to control the outward expression of his anger plays a vital role in alcohol related aggression.

"The study aims to show that the combination of high trait anger and low anger control even further increases your risk," said Peter R. Giancola, Associate Professor of Psychology, Director of the University of Kentucky, Alcohol Research Laboratory.

Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at McGill University, Robert O. Pihl, said, "This topic is exceedingly relevant as, generally alcohol intoxication co-occurs with violence in approximately half of all rapes, murders and assaults, including family violence."

"The significance of this correlation is typically ignored by society, possibly because the nature of the relationship remains argumentative. This study and others like it are slowly illuminating the mechanisms and vulnerabilities involved in the alcohol/aggression relationship," he added.

Scientists took a sample of 164 healthy male social drinkers for their research, in which 159 were Caucasians and 5 were African Americans. These participants between the age group of 21 to 35 were given an alcoholic beverage, and then put to a laboratory aggression task.

Higher levels of trait anger were related with increased aggression. But, it was strange that a few intoxicated men also reported low levels of anger control.

Giving the reasons for this, Phil said that most, if not all individuals, who drink, do so without becoming violent.

Giancola suggested that the ability or inability to control anger is an important factor in the equation. For example, in the case of driving, individuals with trait anger should avoid drinking. Apart from this, these individuals should take part in various intervention programs that are specifically designed reduce anger.

"Research indicates that alcohol increases aggression by reducing fear, increasing arousal, and impairing cognitive functioning. However, being in this disinhibited state does not mean that one will necessarily become aggressive. They might also become more talkative, jovial, or sexual," Giancola added.

Giancola also said that the main aim of this research programme was to determine the factors that are most important in increasing one's risk for intoxicated aggression.