The bitter drinker
February 2, 2008 6:50 AM   Subscribe

How can I stop being an angry drunk?

I am not usually an angry drunk. I am jovial and friendly, but not around my significant other. I turn into a mean, verbally abusive, demanding, ego maniac. I have even gone so far as to break up with my significant other. I don't even know how he/she keeps talking to me and forgiving me. I've done this about 3 times now. It's usually triggered by jealousy, past events that I apparently haven't let go of.

I know the easy answer is don't drink. I like to drink and I am not a habitual drinker. I maybe go out drinking once ever 3 months. And around other people I do not get like this. I feel terrible and I want this awful habit to change.

What to do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Therapy. Now.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:56 AM on February 2, 2008

My guess, find out what issues you have about your relationship, or yourself, and sort them out. Seems you've mostly identified what it is, but coming to terms with it sober might solve it.
The other possibility I can think of is just that being drunk and emotional at all makes you mean, and that it's just being around the person who gets you emotional, be it happy or pissed off that sets you off. At which point, don't drink would be the answer.

My general feeling on this, having had friends who suffered their partners getting like this, was that they just shouldn't drink. Which is more important to you?
posted by opsin at 6:56 AM on February 2, 2008

Your relationship has issues which you are avoiding, but which are let out when you're drunk. Deal with these issues, and don't drink to the point of drunkenness. You seem to know this is what you should be doing.
posted by beerbajay at 7:04 AM on February 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

anonymous: I know the easy answer is don't drink. I like to drink and I am not a habitual drinker. I maybe go out drinking once ever 3 months. And around other people I do not get like this. I feel terrible and I want this awful habit to change.

If you're not alcoholic, then the answer is, just don't get drunk. Isn't that at all possible? Limit yourself to only one drink per night, every time you drink. In fact, I have a feeling that most moderate people who drink almost never get drunk. Maybe you should reevaluate why you're drinking if drunkenness seems like it's an inevitable result.

But the therapy is the only thing that will really help. Seriously. That way you can talk to someone and decipher what's really behind this.
posted by koeselitz at 7:04 AM on February 2, 2008

It's usually triggered by jealousy, past events that I apparently haven't let go of.

Sounds like that's your problem. Be it through therapy, couples' therapy, self-reflection or a little time off from each other, you should address these underlying issues in a way that will allow you to work through them. Communicate with your SO through this process too: let him or her know you're working to change and ask for his or her help when you need it. I think it would also be fair to cut down on the drinking around your SO until you've made some progress. If these are your issues, then there's no reason the SO should have to suffer.

Good luck.
posted by AV at 7:07 AM on February 2, 2008

Wow, you could be me writing about the past. Therapy helped me get over it to some extent, but you need to be aware that for me at least, this has never fully gone away. I can drink, but if I accidentally get super shitty (which has happened about twice I think since I figured this out) it happens again, mostly if people agitate me. So after you get some therapy, probably you can drink, but be careful about it.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:36 AM on February 2, 2008

yup, therapy. deal with those issues sober so you don't deal with them drunk. sounds like your lover's a saint, but this can't last forever.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:53 AM on February 2, 2008

Please please please stop drinking.

It's the easy answer, and its the answer you don't want to hear. I have been on the receiving end of 'angry drunks' (my father) and believe me, there is nothing more heart breaking, more frustrating and more frightening than a drunken loved one in full flight.

If it is only happening every 3 months.. then it should be easy to stop.. no? If not, your issues are a lot more deep-seated than you seem prepared to admit.

I feel for your significant other. For his/her sake.....stop. If you are male.. then for God's sake be a man.

Godd luck
posted by TheOtherGuy at 8:01 AM on February 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I went through a period where I was an angrier drunk than usual...the only solution was to stop drinking. It was just a phase though, so it should pass, unless the issues are really too bad.
posted by sweetkid at 8:17 AM on February 2, 2008

I've always sort of believed that something key to a person's nature really comes out when they are blasted. So, your S.O. probably doesn't shake off these angry drunken outbursts from you. If they are smart, they will get away from you because clearly you have some latent anger towards them and I can't imagine why they'd want to spend more time on you. I know that's harsh. Getting therapy is good advice -- it's not fair to you or your S.O. to hold on to issues which should have been resolved. Resolve those issues so that you can get beyond them and give your S.O. someone who truly loves and cares for them without reservation. You can start therapy by apologizing to the person you've been so mean to, coming clean about what you're so resentful about and then declaring your intention to make things better and following through. Good luck -- it's clear these rages are taking a toll on you as well.
posted by amanda at 8:33 AM on February 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Stop getting drunk.
posted by chunking express at 8:39 AM on February 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

Sometimes the easy answer is the right one.
posted by MasterShake at 8:51 AM on February 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Try to drink less and slower. For every drink, have a glass or two of water or something else without alcohol. Go home earlier. See if that helps.
posted by iviken at 8:52 AM on February 2, 2008

I don't think you need to stop drinking, just stop drinking around her. I'm sure she'd appreciate it. But look into therapy too, because there has to be a reason for the Frankenstein act.
posted by loiseau at 8:57 AM on February 2, 2008

I think it's important to explore why you don't want to stop drinking even though you identify it as the easiest solution to a problem that is likely to destroy a long-standing relationship with an exceptionally patient and forgiving partner. You say that this doesn't even happen that often. Are you really so eager to get drunk four times a year that you're willing to risk losing this person? What are the relative benefits of going out and getting drunk? I'd urge you to think of another way to get those results without alcohol. Really. You'll be healthier, and it sounds like you'll both be happier.
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 9:19 AM on February 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yeah, you could go to therapy to work on your underlying issues, but I think the "who you are when you are drinking is WHO YOU REALLY ARE!!!!" stuff is bullshit. Alcohol changes your brain, it changes the way you act, and it does not magically reveal your true feelings towards your loved ones. Those are demonstrated in your loving behavior towards them every day.

In summary, stop drinking. It makes you abusive. Abusing your significant other is not OK. You can predict that it will happen when you drink. Stop drinking = stop abusing your significant other.
posted by sondrialiac at 9:19 AM on February 2, 2008

as the level of your intoxication rises, the level of control you have over yourself declines proportionally. this makes dealing with such an issue difficult if not impossible in such situations.

you have two options: attack the underlying problem at hand or refuse to get intoxicated beyond a level in which you are still in command of yourself (i.e.: just have one beer, stay fit to drive).

something I'd like to mention because men in general seem to have a problem with therapists: seeking help is not a sign of weakness but the smart thing to do. you wouldn't try to fix a car yourself if you had no idea what you were doing and you wouldn't want to operate on your heart yourself either, so apply the same logic to your mind. if you don't know what to do about it, all you end up doing is stabbing in the dark hoping to hit upon the issue. that's frustrating and seldomly fruitful.

best of luck to you.
posted by krautland at 9:28 AM on February 2, 2008

I'm sorry, but I agree with the others who say to stop drinking if it makes you abusive. Some of us don't get to drink. Drinking is such a small part of life, and a relationship is such a huge one.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:37 AM on February 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Alcohol lessens your inhibitions. You don't become angry, your pre-existing anger comes out. Stopping or moderating drinking is a short term solution. However, it is very possible that if you don't deal with the anger, it will come out anyway, one day, when you are stone cold sober. Deal with the anger, then have a beer to celebrate.
posted by Rumple at 10:04 AM on February 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yep, you've got issues with your SO. Deal with them. And observe some strict limits when you go out with her -- no more than 3 drinks, or whatever.

Also, ask your friends to be honest with you about what you're like when you're out with them and drunk. Maybe you don't pick a fight and and break up with your girlfriend, but are you aggressive in other ways that are more situationally appropriate , but which still give you an outlet for unresolved anger? Things like mean-spirited joking (it can be funny and still be mean) or political ranting (arguing, but with people who are up for a good argue)?
posted by desuetude at 10:30 AM on February 2, 2008

Anytime a question is posted about alcohol on AskMefi, the response is inevitably to quit drinking or drink less. While this response is frequently correct, I think that it is often hyperbolic or even wrong. (Last night I was drunk and stubbed my toe. What should I do? NEVER EVER GET NEAR BEER AGAIN IF YOU SMELL IT YOU WILL DIE.)

In this case, I think alcohol is simply relaxing your inhibitions and letting deeper issues come out. Refraining from drinking may prevent them from surfacing, at least temporarily, but is not addressing the underlying cause. There's a side or part of you that harbors resentment, dislike, or other negative feelings about your SO. Those are what need to be addressed and it's up to you to find a way how.
posted by christonabike at 10:30 AM on February 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Since the obvious answers have been covered, here's an outlier -- in my understanding of Traditional Chinese Medicine it says that anger is related to the liver. So, yeah, alcohol will agitate your liver. But so would other toxins (both past and current). So maybe that could suggest why it just started, if it is a passing thing, and maybe some sort of cleanse or detox or something would help clean up your liver.... I'm not a huge believer in all this, so I can't get too much more specific, but it might be worth a try along with the therapy and abstinance approaches above.
posted by salvia at 10:45 AM on February 2, 2008

abstinence misspelled, whoops
posted by salvia at 10:46 AM on February 2, 2008

My solution to this SAME EXACT PROBLEM was to consciously decide at the beginning of the night that if I got drunk, I was going to stay happy. I told myself and my boyfriend that I wasn't allowed to pick fights with him and if I did, he should to tell me to stop. Yes, we also discussed the issues I got mad about once we were both sober and worked through a lot of them, but for me, just making the choice to not let myself get mad helped a lot. YMMV, cause I seem to have more self-control when drunk than a lot of people I know, but it's worth a try.
posted by evilbeck at 2:02 PM on February 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

try meditation to discover why you are acting like that. some stress-relieving physical activity like kickboxing or muay thai may help and if you think that it is becoming hard to get by without booze, try AA and see how it goes. talking to other people always helps.
posted by heartofglass at 3:00 PM on February 2, 2008

See if you can think about something else when drunk, like sex, for example. If you have angry thoughts about the relationship, make a mental note to think them through and maybe talk about them when sober, then get back to the sex again.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:27 PM on February 3, 2008

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