Personality Changes While Drinking: Types and Causes

It’s clear from experiences of real life that alcohol can cause drastically different effects on the personality of one person from another. People express shock about change they notice from their partners or spouses while they are drinking. How does personality change when drinking alcohol?

Alcoholic Personality Changes Types

Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia assigned 187 undergraduates who have a “drinking buddy” (a person who is aware of their personality traits when both drunk and sober) the task to fill identical surveys so as to determine frequency of drinking, consequences related to alcohol and drunk and sober personality traits. They then formed ‘types of drunks’ or subgroups based on 5-factor method – the traits utilized by psychologists to assess personality of a person – which includes extraversion, neuroticism, openness, conscientiousness and agreeableness.

It turns out that there are 4 types of alcoholic personalities that match with certain popular characters: Mary Poppins, Hemingway, the Nutty Professor and Mr. Hyde. These 4 kinds of personality change when drinking alcohol are described below:

  1. The Hemingway’s: Members who fall in this group have only very slight changes in their personality when they are intoxicated. Their intellect (for instance being imaginative and ability to understand abstract ideas) and conscientiousness (for instance, being organized, prepared and prompt) were affected less in comparison to the remaining sample. This was the largest group among the sample. The researchers concluded that this type represents majority of alcoholics who do not undergo drastic changes in character or experience consequences related to alcohol.
  2. The Mary Poppins: This group consisted of small number of alcoholics, who are especially agreeable while sober (this friend of yours would be the most cooperative and friendliest). Once they are intoxicated, they had less reduction in intellect and conscientiousness and more increase in extraversion in comparison to others. This group of alcoholics has the responsible, sweet drinkers who have fewer problems related to alcohol in comparison to others.
  3. The Mr. Hyde’s: How does personality change when drinking alcohol? Members in this group reported reduced intellect and conscientiousness and smaller increase in extraversion after drinking alcohol in comparison to other samples. The conclusion of the study was that the members in this group,  similar to evil Mr. Hyde, reported being less intellectual, less responsible and more hostile while they are drunk in comparison to while they are sober and also in comparison to members of other groups. Moreover, this group was also more likely to have harmful consequences due to drinking alcohol such as getting arrested due to being drunk or blacking out.
  4. The Nutty Professors: Members in this group are introvert when sober, but transformed chemically into more confident and extraverted person. They demonstrated a huge increase in extraversion while drunk and a reduction in conscientiousness. Though members in this group had most difference between their drunk and sober traits; however, still their decision-making remains healthy-for instance, no messaging their exes while drunk and no blacking out. Members in this group are the persons who are shy when sober but who become the life of a party when they get drunk.

What Causes These Personality Change When Drinking Alcohol?

Many of the times, the personality change occurs depends on the mood of the person before the consumption of alcohol and getting intoxicated. Moreover, the speed with which alcohol is consumed and the amount consumed are also described as factors with persons who drink fast and heavily often getting aggressive quickly. The response of an alcoholic to drinking large amounts of alcohol – either being excessive jovial and pleasant or being excessive angry–is believed to be influenced by genetic factor that makes some persons respond to it with giddiness or aggression. However, experiencing excess stress levels may also cause such response.

The reaction of an individual to alcohol or personality change when drinking depends on factors such as genetics, neurological system, constitution and other imponderable factors.

It is an important fact that different persons react in a different way to alcohol. Some people become happy after excessive intake of alcohol. They are individuals who do not become aggressive even while they are drunk, though they become more extroverts.

Detect the Signs of Alcohol Addiction

Personality changes when drinking are often in alcoholics. The major signs and symptoms of an individual suffering from alcohol addiction or alcoholism are:

  • Not able to have any memory of what they did while drinking. The memory that they behaved obnoxiously while drinking is most probably erased from their minds.
  • There have an inability to curb the impulse or desire to drink. They, in fact, think about or look forward to drinking all through the day.

These signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction are often associated with not only denial but also outbursts of anger if someone such as a mother, wife or friend says that they have alcohol drinking problem or they should stop drinking or need help or seek help. The denial associated with anger is interesting as the persons doing the advising or pointing out mean well and do not try to be insulting to the alcoholic.

An average individual may react differently by admitting the fact that they are in fact drinking excessively and will decrease or stop their drinking, but they will not get angry as they do not feel that there is a need to get annoyed. An alcoholic on the other hand, is seemingly unaware of what actually is happening and gets enraged, resentful and furious.

The above mentioned symptoms are only some of the symptoms of a person who have problem with drinking alcohol. Some of the other symptoms of alcohol addiction are:

  • Drinking alcohol in the morning, particularly early morning
  • Feeling a craving to drink alcohol
  • Drinking secretly or hiding bottles of alcohol so that family and friends are not aware of the happenings