When you think of alcohol-induced violence or aggression, you probably associate it with beer-swilling hooligans or hardcore spirit drinkers, but according to Mike Fisher, founder of the British Association of Anger Management (BAAM), wine is just as big a problem.
Increased levels of drinking – wine or any other kind, says Fisher, is partly to blame for lower self-esteem and problems within relationships.
But it’s not just about having the occasional heated argument, alcohol can lead to more dangerous behaviour. “Alcohol is often considered a prerequisite for a good night out and plays a significant role in British social culture, but it is also involved in half of all reported murders, rapes and assaults*.”
While a glass of red or white can make you feel tipsy and jolly, it also affects your ability to think and make decisions causing you to misunderstand a situation and respond differently.
“Alcohol significantly impairs brain function,” says Fisher. “Speaking scientifically, it suppresses the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate and increases the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA.” Your thoughts and reactions become slower. “People are more likely to misread social cues and have an inability to consider the consequences of actions that they may well regret when in a sober state of mind.”
While for many of us this might not result in extreme anger, for people who have a tendency towards anger it could prove risky. “Alcohol definitely intensifies the expression of emotions and thus can heighten anger,” says Fisher.
However, adds Fisher, his experience indicates that alcohol also ‘makes’ people angry who don’t necessarily have a tendency towards anger.
Furthermore research published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology shows that alcohol-triggered anger is more likely in individuals who aren’t able to think through the consequences of their actions. This means that people who are more spontaneous (ie less forward thinking) are actually at greater risk of responding carelessly to a situation.
Worried about someone you know or yourself?
Mike Fisher, of the BAAM, says you can ask yourself these questions:
- Do people tell you that you become aggressive when drunk? If more than three people tell you that, you need to take heed and do something about it.
- Do you find yourself becoming aggressive or thinking negative thoughts when drunk? That’s an indication that there is suppressed anger there.
- The British Association of Anger Management provides support programmes and training for interested individuals or groups. Go to www.angermanage.co.uk for more information.
*According to a report from charity Alcohol Concern, studies show that around alcohol was a factor in the crimes of 60% of sentenced male prisoners, and around 40% of female prisoners. Research also indicates that as alcohol consumption increases so does violent offending.
Article by: www.Saga.co.uk
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