According to the research, angry drunks tend to be hot-tempered when they are sober, and when they get drunk that ill-temper hikes up.
On top of that, alcohol slows down the activity in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, resulting in diminished self-control and reasoning power when we are under influence. So, alcohol is not an ideal entertainment for short-tempered people, but we all do things we know are not good for us. So do angry drunks.
In this day and age, maintaining a good temperament can be challenging for many of us, when endless stressors bombard us at so many levels of our daily lives. Maybe that is why we encounter angry drunks everywhere. But if it is one of our loved ones facing this challenge, we should know how to deal with them wisely.
How do you control an angry drunk person?
Alcohol can be fun and as long as we are all happy and safe. But sadly there are many angry drunks that put us on edge when we are around them.
It can be difficult to know how to deal with angry drunks, so they won’t spoil the party or put us in a situation where we could become victims of abuse.
The most important thing in handling an angry drinker is to stay calm, so that the situation does not escalate to verbal abuse, or even violence.
Here are a few tips to consider:
Do not expect or even try to engage an angry drunk in logical conversation.
When people get drunk, it is hard for them to think critically or control their behaviour, so start by lowering your expectations.
We all know people tend to act silly when they get hammered, almost like children. So when you deal with an angry drunk, think of that person as a child. That means you will need endless patience and understanding. Even if something they say offends you, just let it go at that moment.
Do not get into the trap of the blame game.
They might try to engage you in a conversation about the time you did something upsetting to them in the past, out of the blue. They might not talk reasonably, and they might even say things that are not really true. At times you might feel upset, or even insulted.
This is an alcohol trap!
Do not respond with logical reasoning. Listen to their feelings.
And if you can afford the patience, respond to them by saying something like, “I did not know that. Are you okay now?” Or if your patience is wearing thin, stick with “Mmm” or “Uh-huh”
If you cannot think of things to say, try mirroring their words, for example :
Drunk: “Do you know when you were the biggest jerk? At last year’s Christmas party!”
You: “Ah, the Christmas party.”
Because if you shut them out, they will know you are ignoring them and they will resent it. Remember, it is important not to upset them further.
Be their soundboard
Many people might want to shut up a drunk person, who more often than not, will tend to talk in an unpleasant conversational manner – and a majority of the time, they will be repeating a story they have already told, often as loudly as possible.
While it is totally understandable to want to stop the unpleasantness, it is not a good idea. It is better to be a soundboard for a while than to put yourself in a hostile, confrontational situation. Let them talk, but try to help them talk about something positive, instead of dwelling on bad memories in their past.
Talk about good memories with them
No one enjoys talking with an angry drunk, but sometimes actively avoiding and dismissing them could aggravate their anger.
So help them to think about good memories, and if you have something to praise them for, even better. Negativity is infectious and usually snowballs. Try to help the drunk stay in a positive mood as much as possible.
Do not say things that could trigger an angry drunk.
We all have a habitual tendency to say things when we handle the known angry drinkers around us, because we know their repertoires so well, and are honestly fed up. But, let’s remember not to say things that could trigger them.
For example, things like:
“Stop drinking, that’s enough.”
“Why don’t you call it a night?”
“Watch out what you say when you’re drunk.”
“I’m not doing this with you right now.”
Angry drinkers tend to have short tempers, besides having underlying aggression issues even when they are sober.
It might sound like nothing to us, but to them, any rejecting or dismissive words could be a trigger for their explosive anger. And once they latch onto the words, it is hard to get them to drop it.
Be attentive to their needs and give them caring words
Try to say things like, “Do you need anything?” or, “Do you want to eat something?” Simple caring words can often mellow someone whose anger is on the rise.
Everyone loves to be cared for, but especially for someone who tends to reach for alcohol when they are upset or lonely, your caring words could mean a lot.
If you want to say something serious, wait until they get sober.
It is not a good idea to engage in a serious conversation, especially when you want your point to get through to a drunk person. It could quickly escalate the mood to confrontational instead.
Think of it as a conversation with a person who has just had a wisdom tooth pulled out under heavy sedation. Be patient and wait.
Why do drinkers get angry?
Not every drinker gets angry. A mild-tempered person does not usually get angry, even after too many shots.
But an angry drinker seems to operate under the formula:
Person + Alcohol = Angry Drunk
In truth, it is more like,
Hot-headed person + Alcohol = Angry Drunk
Angry drinkers tend to be more verbal when alcohol is in their system, and say things out loud that they might not ever say when they were sober.
When people get drunk, their rational thinking is blurred to almost nothing. They misinterpret words, tone, expressions, and get easily offended. For this reason, people think alcohol causes the anger problems. But an angry drunk has a volatile temperament in begin with, and when they drink, the alcohol sets off their temper in an irrational way.
So, when you are in a situation where you have to deal with an angry drunk, please stretch your patience to the max and let him/her talk. Listen to their feelings with caring responses, while helping them to stay focused on positive subjects. Do not use triggering words, and if you have something serious to say to a drunk, please wait until he/she is sober.