Among alcoholics one of the many irritating personality traits is anger. Dealing with an angry drunk is challenging. Coping with this disorder when they’ve been drinking is difficult. Even sober, the negative emotion seems to be dominating in the character of a regular alcohol drinker.
Not all people who suffer from being addicted to alcohol are mean. My step father was the most passive, easy going drunk that I have ever met. He routinely would sleep more than argue. So, not all alcoholics are candidates for having the disorder actively working in their life. It is a common thread among the disease of alcoholism though.
Ways of Dealing With an Angry Alcoholic
Unfortunately for me, my situation involved dealing with a very angry, verbally and physically abusive alcoholic. As her disease progressed and she became more addicted to many substances, the symptoms of anger increased. Even something as little a small and insignificant as a burnt-out light bulb on the front porch could set her into a rage.
I had to learn how to protect myself from the surprise outbursts of anger. Here are a few methods for dealing with an alcoholic’s behavior that worked for me.
How to Cope With an Alcoholic’s Anger
1) Learn how to not take things personal. This begins by accepting that the person that you care about and love is going to get ticked off at the littlest things. It’s not your fault! A person who drinks regularly will use the emotion to cause the focus to be on someone else or something in life rather than on themselves. Anything that they can do to not be confronted or analyzed they will attempt. Getting mad often helps to keep the focus off of their drinking problem.
2) Make a decision to be patient and kind.A gentle answer and a smile will oftentimes defuse the outburst. Even if they get madder because you seem to be unaffected by their personality disorder at the time, continue to respond with meekness.
3) Remember that you have the right to choose your own battles. It is not necessary to offer a solution to the alcoholic’s situational dilemma. In actual fact, it’s OK to choose to not join in with them at all. Just politely tell them that you have something to take care of and go into another area of the house, office or go outside. Be ready to run though because their personality changes quickly from being mad to throwing fits of rage at times.
4) View your lives as two completely separate locations. I like to use a street as an example here. Picture yourself on one side of a street and your problem drinker on the other. You can always choose to stay on your side of the street where things are peaceful, serene, and clean. You do have the choice to not cross the street and join them in the anger and bitter things that they are living in.
5) Call a friend who understands and cares about the difficult situation that you are dealing with. This is one of the strongest suggestions that many alcoholism support group treatment programs make. If you can just get on the phone with someone, you can change your focus from being on the alcoholic’s behavior and get your mind on something else. This works every time. Even if you must call two or three people to help settle your emotions, it’s better than fighting with an alcoholic.
If you begin to apply these suggestions for coping with an alcoholic’s anger, you will find that it’s easier for you to keep your life free from the negative effects of anger and anxiety.
Although working or living with someone who is abusing some sort of substance is always going to cause you to miss the mark and eventually lose your temper. Make sure that one of the personality traits that you develop is the ability to make an amend and say that you were wrong. This way when the personality disorders that you’re dealing with get the best of you and you slip, you can clean your life up by saying that you are sorry.
What are those things social workers should never say to an angry alcoholic in order to avoid challenging behavior?
hi……..i need help dealing with a woman that is amazing in almost eveyway…….except when she drinks…..sometimes a silly unimportant thing triggers anger that takes days to fade…
Hope this isn’t too late a reply for you. I’ve only just discovered this website recently as I was searching for answers for my alcoholic ‘amazing man’. Seems these alcoholics are amazing when they are sober, but not so when intoxicated. A real shame for sure.
Anyway, back to your quest, when your amazing woman is in a bad angry mood for days, disassociate from their negativity; diffuse the anger by staying upbeat yourself and appearing unaffected, and be your happy self around her, completely ignoring her foul mood. You may just help to lift her anger off herself and your shared space. Maybe some soothing words or a hug or shoulder rub will help to lift the mood away. This is what I do. It works for me; for us.
It seems as though nobody here has really dealt with an angry alcoholic. It you did, you would know that you can’t simply go into another room, or “across the street “. They seek you out to belittle and humiliate. They need a target.
…and keeping a happy mood or attitude to diffuse the anger is the dumbest response I have ever heard. Lucky you that you have never been in the situation of dealing with an angry alcoholic, but you are being careless with giving advise.
The only answer is to get out. Until the angry alcoholic gets into a support program to stop drinking, that house is not safe.
There are different degrees of an angry alcoholic. The kind you speak of is the kind you definately want to run away from for good. No one should put up with a violent angry alcoholic. Unreasonable on every level, drunk or sober. A safe house for yourself and other members inside that house under attack is the only situation possible.
Sorry to hear yours is so bad, or was so bad because you walked, or rather, ran away from it. There is plenty to be gained from this site; it just needs to be tweaked for each browser’s individual experience and circumstance.
Hope you are getting the assistance it sounds like you need. Others here may be able to offer advice for the red hot angry alcoholic.
Asking a person to deal with an alcoholic with meekness seems to be asking the impossible. After years of lies, manipulation, abuse(not physical), and continual problems, the anger and resentment I feel is very real. My daughter has created so much turmoil and pain in my family that it is my greatest challenge to deal with her without displaying anger. Even sober, she displays the characteristics of what I have read is a “dry drunk.”
Jackie, I understand exactly what you are feeling here. It’s not an easy task in any case. Here are a few articles that may give you some techniques to apply in this situation with your daughter:
How To Cope With An Angry Alcoholic
Does The Alcoholic Make You Feel Worthless
Abused By An Alcoholic
As you know, we can’t control the alcoholic’s mood swings and fits of rage. We can control our own attitudes in order to find a place where we have more peace and serenity in our lives.
How about considering that these angry alcoholics dont deserve tolerance? Why should people tip toe around them so they can rage? Just dump them and move on….Abuse is unacceptable and finding techniques to make it tolerable is silly….
Thanks Bal, many do deserve it and eventually will get sober. AA is filled with grateful alcoholics who were once filled with anger and now are filled with God.
I am tired of apologizing to the alcoholic and ragoholic in my life for their misinterpretations, twisting of my words, and making mountains out of molehills. They constantly make my life miserable with their constant complaining, whining, gossiping, griping, and thenfly off the handle when I take one step sideways. It is exhausting. And just patting them of the shoulder and waiting for their foul mood to lift is more than I want to even endure any more.
It is time they both grew up and became adults, sought help and their behaviors not be tolerated by family any more. That’s why they still act like they do… bc they have gotten away with it for so long.
Sherri, sorry to hear you are having a hard time. JC says, “we have two choices, change our attitude or change our address.” The alcoholics are not going to change; we are the ones who have to make the changes.
Take care of yourself today. Find things to do that you love to do Sherri and do them. If you have Al-anon meetings in your area, go to a few meetings.
I know that you are lonely and frustrated. That’s what alcoholism does to us, it makes us irritated when we don’t know how to handle things.
Have you take the audio course from this website yet? If not I’d highly recommend that you take it.
Sherri, what is it that is happening that is frustrating you so much?
Did you read the links found here: https://www.alcoholicsfriend.com/2009/09/alcoholics-personality-traits-coping-with-anger-disorders/comment-page-1/#comment-42120
The person in my life that is a recovering alcoholic has lied to me about everything and I don’t get it. Some things are just plain stupid so I don’t understand why he lies about them. This person never keeps his word, rarely does what he says he is going to do when he says he is going to do it, I’m always being disappointed. When I confront this person, they lash out at me and get angry when I am the one being offended by this person’s poor behavior. It drives me nuts.
This person is the most amazing person with an amazing heart and so many great qualities yet when there is any time I need to share my feelings about this behavior I get profanity thrown at me and a response that just isn’t called for given the situation.
I don’t like to be lied to. I also don’t like to be disrespected. How do I stand up for myself to the alcoholic, confront and make happy? Help…. I’m at a total loss and this all breaks my heart every time! Thank you.
I have the same thing. Just don’t understand. Trying to talk about anything is a argument. Its like they totally hate me.
Hi, all. My now ex-husband abusive alcoholic reminded me of my two year old granddaughter throwing a temper tantrum or fit. And he was in his mid-sixties when I finally pulled the plug. Please read the book “The Baby King Must Die” written by Robert W. Fuller. It really opened my eyes to the alcoholic’s brain chemistry after bathing his brain in toxic substances for years. It’s a great book. You are dealing with someone whose brain has probably been physically damaged by alcohol/drugs. And it only gets worse if they continue to consume large amounts of alcohol or use drugs, or both. Before the mental institutions and asylums were closed in this country, they housed many belligerent alcoholics and drug addicts. Now most of them are out in society, torturing their families or living in the streets. I truly do not know what the answer is when treatment programs appear to only work for a small percentage of the alcoholic/drug addict population. We have a serious problem in this country. God Bless You.
I have a thirty nine year old daughter who has been an alcoholic since her early twenties. Her father and I have done everything you can name to try and help her turn this around – doctors, meds, rehab, therapy,
AA,and on and on. She has been strapped to a bed in ICU with withdrawals, two public intoxication arrests,
physically ill with life threatening issues, in and out of jail, and now -in prison for the third DWI. This is a young woman who had it all – looks, personality, opportunities, supportive family, bright future. However, alcoholism robbed her of a life and her family of a beautiful daughter. She is now thirty nine and the past eighteen years of her life have been wasted. There are no good solutions for this disease. I could write the book from a parent’s point of view. Try as we might, there is no match for the power of addiction. We have been in a long battle to try and save her.
Unfortunately, there are no new breakthroughs on how to deal with this disease. It continues to take its toll on many, many families with no solution in sight. It alters the brain to the point that it makes it almost impossible for the addicted person to make good decisions and do what he/she must do, over the long haul, to recover. As bad a prison is, it may turn out to be the only thing that can save her. Sad story.
Well, we are in the midst of one of those bad spells. Husband and step-daughter living
with us and she is in her fourties. Lies, denial, on and on. It is hard to balance your
life with positive emotions when it is two against one. Tough days and nights. Just tough!!!!
Jackie Ray, I am sooooo sorry for you and your husband dealing with this addiction/disease with your daughter. I can’t imagine having to watch this for years! My heart goes out to you both. Seeing my situation he was just a boyfriend I could totally and completely walk away, no children to complicate matters. I feel fortunate seeing your situation. It was hard enough watching my XAB decline, make bad decisions, and totally morph into a person I no longer knew. I have complete empathy for your pain. I can’t imagine if this would have been my child or a close family realation. I hope you have faith to help you and great friends and family to support you!<3
I AM DONE..I BECAME A COMPLETE RAG THANX TO THE LAST 6 YEARS OF CO-LIVING WITH DECLINING BEAUTIFUL SOUL. HE WAS MY BEST FRIEND. AND I WAS HIS. ..NOW I DO NOT KNOW WHO I AM LEAVING..YOUR ADVICES ARE WELL MEANT – BUT THOSE CAN RARELY WORK OUT. ONLY WAY IS TO RUN OUT AND HIDE WELL UNTIL THE RAGED ONE PASSES OUT IN BED AFTER FEW HOURS OF SHOUTING AND BREAKING. THE ONLY THING I REGRET IS THAT I DID NOT LEFT EARLIER SO I COULD SPARE OUR 5YEAR OLD SON FROM HORRORS AND SERIOUS EMOTIONAL SCARS.I BELIEVED IN HIM. I DID NOT DREAM THAT HE COULD COMPROMISE HIMSELF SO MUCH FOR THE BOTTLE. I WAS PATIENT, KIND, SAD, NERVOUS,RAGED, REFUGE, I TRIED EVERYTHING..NOW WHEN HE FEELS THAT I AM LEAVING FOR SURE, HE IS FURIOUS. AND I AM NOT SURE IF HE WILL NOT HURT ME SERIOUSLY IN HIS ALC.RAGE.READING YOUR COMMENTS HELPED ME AT LEAST TO GET A GRIP AND RECALL MY SANITY..I STARTED TO BELIEVE I WAS GUILTY AND INSANE HERE..WELL, I DID BECAME INSANE. HUH..STILL AM.I SHALL KEEP MY LAST STRENGTH TO RE-BUILD MYSELF AND OUR SON.FEAR. FEAR AND WEAK CHARACTER FALL EASILY INTO THE TRAP OF FALSE STRENGTH THIS DEMONIC WATER PROVIDE.IT GIVES..THEN IT TAKES WHOLE SOUL..I FEEL LIKE MY FRIEND DIED. I FEEL BAD FOR NOT BEING ABLE TO HELP HIM. PULL HIM OUT FROM HELL. FOR BECOMING WEAK MYSELF AND LETTING MY TEMPER LOOSE..MY WISDOM AND COLD HEAD..IT IS HARD…SO HARD. I HOPE HIS SOUL WILL FORGIVE ME..HE SLEEPS NOW. AFTER HARD NIGHT..SO..SOOO EVIL..ALCOHOL..
To anyone that has any input? Do dry drunks act the same way? One time nice the next acts like he hates us.
Sherri I see the same from this a. Very confusing’s. Can go in a tantrums at any time.
I have read all of your comments and feel such empathy for you all. I have been dealing with a recovering alcoholic for several years now. I have been lied to more times than I have hair on my head. His behavior is totally unacceptable. I have heard every excuse in the book for why he didn’t keep his word, lied, etc. I know it is a behavior that just goes with the territory because I have heard and seen him lie to others in the same way. Eventually those people learn who he is about and they walk away but for those of us that are in love with the alcoholic we stay, we hope, we pray, we endure while hoping things will change. Unfortunately even when the recovering alcoholic is no longer around alcohol, the alcoholic behavior and coping mechanisms remain.
Many do not have the coping skills needed to handle relationships. When I have called this person on his abusive behavior or inappropriate actions I am suddenly called “toxic” and he accuses me of playing “victim”. I hear a bunch of verbiage that is used commonly in AA meetings. He will not take responsibility for his own actions and instead blames others. This is all part of what goes along with the disease. Fortunately I am not married to this man. I have so much empathy for those that are and have children because no child should be a witness to this kind of anger and rages and abuse that can come from people in this place.
Personally I have had to walk away from this person romantically. I cannot go through my life not being able to trust him, I don’t believe a word that comes from his mouth now about anything. He is abusive and turns everything against me, twists my words, calls me names when he is the one that has shown terribly abusive behavior. He has been a master manipulator and I cannot live with a person like this.
My advice to someone who has suffered over and over and over again: You deserve happiness. Get out now while you can still find happiness and a healthy relationship. Don’t think you have the power to change them, you don’t. Just know that you are worthy of a good relationship with someone who loves you and will treat you kindly.
=) Make yourself a priority and love yourself!
Thanks for your input; I’ve been married to my a for 33 years. Out of those years I have left 3 times .first when are sons were young. The a went to rehab. When back fell for his words. Stay clean . Then I found dope in the house.lyied to my face when I asked him. This last time he got abusive left for a year. Again I fell for the words. I have learned I cannot communicate with him when I get away again. He is gaslighting me’twisting my words.projects his crap on me. Talked to my counselor he said everything he says is what the a is guilty off. I can’t have a adult conversation with my a
I truly feel your pain and understand your fear,chill out.actually I’ve been your 5yr old little boy,my mom left to late,please git him out safe,it like telling him to drink bleach.i am now 47 and consider my self seviver.it still provokes my primal fears,as I try to sleep(night terrors for real)suicidal thoughts everyday since I was twelve .and needed to be in big truck with day(daddy’s pride and you,he stole my soul.)5yr old boys need to be protected form that abuse,he’s helpless and he knows it.it hurts more than mommy will ever know. 47/5yr old
My experience with my on again, off again girlfriend has been mentally rough on me. We get along fine when she’s sober but when she drinks its to the point of blackouts. She argues over the smallest things and gets physically abusive. She starts out picking a fight and gets herself to the point of raging then kicks me out. She gives me the silent treatment for a few weeks then tells me its over. This cycle has happened 5-6 times. She’s decent person but when she drinks I never what person is going to appear by the end of the night. I don’t know which way is up with her. lots of issues and her dad is an alcoholic who takes her side. Its been a month and half on this breakup. I care for her but at the point where I think its time to let go. I cant fix her. Sad though.
I have a serious issue, my husband when he drinks becomes emotionally abusive and vents his anger to me about others and then he turns on me, he uses the most ridicules things to attract me with, then mostly i loose my cool, then i cry and then i jump him, he has been an alcoholic for more than 30 years even before me, and his family nor kids want to know him, he has other addictions t, and he blames this on me, he was diagnosed with adhd but i am starting think it worse than that, he abuses me now over the phone, and belittles me , i had a nervous breakdown, and he still does not take it serious, i am now 50 and can’t find work, as we keep moving cities due to him loosing his job frequently, he makes bad choices and never stops blaming others, he is forgetful, and he is constantly argumentative, he also treats me with no respect and spends most of his money on drink,
After having a dry drunk as a father and a very high functioning alcoholic as a husband…I really get it. They all verbally and emotionally abuse…why, because they don’t like themselves. He will not change even if he quits drinking, he’s been this way too long and it’s hard work to change yourself. Because of living around alcoholism I have been in working on my self for 30 years. Find support from friends, pray and try to get out. Save yourself…you can do it.
I read lots of your comments. Every one of these comments related to me. Is 30 years since living with an alcoholic. Today my adult children still carry the traumas, I am still suffering from this situation.
I am completely exhausted!
Every day, I seem to go through every emotion there is. Peter has been a problem drinker throughout our life together and this has caused me so much pain. Some days I wake up frozen, stuck, and unable to move due to the effects of emotional denial and resistance to what is in front of me. Some days I wake thinking that this situation was only a bad dream I had last night.
We have been together thirty years now and I’m just so worn out. Financially, emotionally my life is a nightmare – we’re arguing all the time I feel so angry because I have to be here to look after him. He has caused so many problems to me and to our children with his drinking and now I have to put up with his health problems. I feel lonely, isolated, stuck, permanently tired and anxious. And now, feeling depressed. Every night I find myself lying in bed wondering just what the hell to do next but, I can feel only my tears telling me that I am hopeless and useless. It makes me terrified known that I have to live with this emotional trauma. Tips, advice on self-care, self-help and support for me doesn’t work any more, I’ve been throughout everything people say could help me. I’ve lost my confidence, trust and hope for the future. Now I am 67 years old and carrying only regrets for not have left him when I and the children needed mostly. Alwyays I thought tomorrow will be better. This has never happened and I have never left. So, I am here to tell you please, leaving as soon is possible, do anything, make the impossible be possible, make miracles but think of leaving because, I learned that we can`t help someone who doesn’t want help. We can`t give love to someone who doesn`t want to be loved. If you leave this destructive relationship early enough, at least one person have a chance to survive, YOU. In my case I lost hope, I am already to traumatized and emotional damaged. Please don`t let my life to be your future. You can still do it.
I wish you all good luck and happiness in your journey
with all my LOVE! Maria
Hi. I am married to a wonderful man. We”ve been together for 13 years and married for 3. I didn’t marry him until he quit drinking. I have noticed that in the last couple of years he’s becoming more critical of others ( including me). He is not able to drive, so I drive him to work etc. He criticizes the way I drive, the routes I take to get where we’re going, etc. It hurts me because I would love it if/when he could become a licensed driver again. He is often angry and feels that my grown kids (who are married and don’t live with us) and myself look down on him because he didn’t go to college. Neither of my kids finished a degree and I was an elementary school teacher. We love him and are amazed by his talents. We never feel he is beneath us. I wish he felt more confident. He often gets angry and yells at me (often threatening to leave me). I don’t think he means what he says, but it hurts. Is this common for recovering alcoholics? He has not had a drink since February 2016. Will he ever stop being frustrsted and taking it out on me? He is normally a kind and generous person. I just hate the bouts of anger.
My daughter is a binge drinker, has been for 3 decades. She is trying harder now for the past couple of years. But every couple of months falls off the wagon for about 5 days. There is always some stresser, but the calendar is about the same. My question is this: Why is the drinking person vile, and the sober one nice? It’s like two totally different people. What happens in the brain that causes this personality switch? The drinking person repeats the identical spiel dozens of times. I allow her to repeat the broken record to me for about an hour; then again in the evening. Plus all the others who also allow the spiel. What in the brain causes these two symptoms — the repetition and the nastiness?
IRRESPONSIBILITY……………THE ETERNAL TWELVE YEAR OLD NARCISSIST WHO FEELS ENTITLED TO VERBALLY AND EVERY WAY ABUSE YOU………..THE TRAUMA IS THE LACK OF RESPONSIBILITY…………TELL THEM TO MOVE OUT LIVE ALONE AND BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN LIVES UNTIL THEY FEEL BETTER………….BIG BABY SYNDROME…………