How Does Alcohol Change Your Personality?

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Alcohol affects your behaviour, not your personality, by altering the way you think. It inhibits and impairs the brain's frontal lobe that handles our cognitive skills, emotional makeup, and reactions.

You may drink far less than you used to and may find yourself not wanting to make the drunken rants and statements you once did.

Destructive consequences of excessive alcohol consumption and abuse alter the personality of the person as well as causing physical changes. Sometimes we become more aggressive, angry, and loud.

This helps explain why alcohol reduces inhibitions, and an intoxicated person may act out their drunken desires without reflecting on the consequences.

Getting treatment for alcoholism and the mental effects should involve a rehab facility that offers dual-diagnosis therapy for co-occurring disorders. 

Alcohol influences the brain to send signals of emotional distress and reduce inhibitions at the same time. These may include:

Alcohol leads to heightened stress

An imbalance between stress and alcohol abuse causes increased blood pressure, heart problems, stroke, injuries, cirrhosis of the liver, and the premature death of many alcoholics.

But the relationship is even more complicated: Stress can also strengthen certain alcoholic personalities and reinforce long-term drinking patterns.

If you're stressed and drinking to relieve stress, remember that it will forever change your relationship with alcohol. In stressful situations, alcohol's effect can be temporary.

As your adrenaline level decreases, the addictive effect of alcohol can lessen. But if you're stressed, your brain never gets the break it needs to decrease the addiction response.

Alcohol impairs cognitive control 

It impairs the brain by changing the levels of certain neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and serotonin. 

These brain changes result in diminished ability to perform sustained attention, altered emotion processing; impairments of short-term memory; and poor planning and inhibition of cognitive behaviour. 

Not only does alcohol disrupt the brain's frontal lobe, but it also causes an imbalance in the network of brain regions. Brain regions in the frontal lobe include the area known as the orbitofrontal cortex. 

This is the region that decreases inhibitions in everyday functioning. 

Researchers noted the cognitive impairments of alcohol and their effect on social behaviour.

They asked participants about the emotional stability of their mood and their tendency to agree or disagree with unacceptable opinions. 

People who had drunk alcohol seemed to have an increased tendency to agree with unacceptable opinions.

This caused the interactions between them and others to have an emotional connection. 

It is the most significant psychological phenomenon related to psychological manipulation. 

The connection in the mind created by alcohol on the brain appears to be the only way alcohol could turn into an addiction. 

While the cause is complex, alcohol's link to aggression and power appears to be a prime factor. 

The evidence seems to show that personality disorders connect to alcoholism. Often the reasons that people develop addiction are not as apparent as a psychiatric diagnosis. 

Physical addiction can happen in anyone who takes a substance in a large enough dose to alters their neurochemistry.

This affects their personality to the point of causing personality problems that prevent them from functioning correctly. 

Does alcohol change your personality long-term?

Alcohol does not change personality in the long-term, per se, but the behaviours set when one is on a binge drink. It can change things slightly—for example; it may bring out some of your personality traits that you are trying to conceal. 

For example, drinkers often say they are more open-minded, empathetic, generous, loving, and giving than they would otherwise be. 

Alcohol can change your behaviours long-term if alcohol consumption as abuse happens regularly.

People who excessively consume alcohol will find a change in their personality because of the impairment and shrinking of the brain. 

Alcohol-induced behavioural changes are reciprocal with psychopathological and social abnormalities. 

Even if it is non chronic, having long-term alcohol abuse can induce schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder.

As alcohol disrupts nerve transmitters to the brain, it affects our beings' behaviours, cognitive, and emotive aspects. 

They associated these psychiatric syndromes with impaired brain function and behaviour changes that can persist long-term and increase the likelihood of alcohol abuse, alcoholism, and other addiction problems. 

Alcohol adversely affects the brain's chemical balance by altering serotonin, dopamine, and other receptors and enzymes in the brain. 

Over-consumption can cause specific changes in neurotransmitter production. These changes can cause changes in personality, sleep, memory, concentration, and more. 

Long-term use of alcohol, whether chronically or excessively, can have significant consequences on behavioural changes, depression, and suicidal tendencies. 

We believe alcohol abuse to be long-term disorders associated with psychosocial, behavioural, and neurological deficits that can be reversed with behavioural therapy. 

But some alcohol-induced personality and psychiatric syndromes such as depressive disorders have long-lasting consequences. 

Long-term chronic alcohol abuse can lead to severe consequences in the brain and the body, including high blood pressure, depression, drug dependence, and more. 

The brain is affected by alcohol abuse and can cause lasting mental and emotional problems. 

For example, one study found that it takes over one year for the brain to recover fully from severe alcohol abuse. But addiction is not the only problem. 

Also, chronic alcohol abuse can lead to other health problems such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. 

It is important to note that alcohol abuse causes long-term changes in the way the brain works, and the changes are likely to be more permanent than short-term personality changes. 

Another study found that individuals who had prolonged exposure to alcohol during their formative years have more than twice the risk of being diagnosed with depression and behavioural problems. 

Someone with a personality disorder is less able to cope with alcohol abuse. The symptoms of this disorder can include impulsivity and irritability. 

It may be more challenging for someone with this disorder to control how much alcohol one drinks.  

This behaviour is not necessarily a result of not liking alcohol but may result from an alcohol abuse disorder. 

Studies suggest it involved personality disorders in alcohol abuse, in part because the personality disorder alters the person's personality. 

Because personality disorders links with alcohol abuse and alcohol abuse can cause personality changes, it is not a coincidence that many alcoholics have personality disorders. 

Changes in the personality may occur because of alcohol abuse, and sometimes, the personality changes may be long lasting.

Does alcohol bring out your true personality? 

Alcohol does not bring out your true personality. Research shows that alcohol inhibits neurotransmitters in the brain and only alters your cognitive thinking, emotions, and behaviour. 

When alcohol disrupts the nerve transmitters, the way we respond to situations changes. We become more outgoing or shy or more withdrawn or defensive. 

Excessive drinking causes you to have a higher percentage of activity in the amygdala. It makes you act out on impulses.

It alters your blood flow in the brain, which reduces the ability to fight off alcohol-related toxins. 

Credible studies show that alcohol inhibits our defences, and the way we react may differ from that of somebody else. 

However, it's impossible to know drinking alcohol could cause how much of the behaviour change, and a person's personality could explain how much or experience with alcohol. 

On the one hand, alcohol causes people to become more extroverted and outgoing.

On the other, alcohol makes them less inhibited and easier to be with, but only temporarily. It's just too soon to know which is genuinely authentic. 

Researchers hope to answer this question, which is fundamental to understanding how alcohol use influences social behaviour.

A new study shows that alcohol can change behaviour, but with different results. 

Because alcohol changes brain chemistry, some people become aggressive and violent while others are simply quiet and reserved. Alcohol causes the removal of inhibitions that calm your brain. 

This kind of behaviour is exhibited in drunken driving situations, sexual assaults, murders, and suicides. 

But there is no cause to alter one's character and personality with alcohol.

Conclusion

Alcohol doesn't change personality, but it could change its trajectory. It's best to monitor your alcohol intake with detailed questions.

Ask yourself:  

  • Are you drinking more often and more heavily than in the past? 
  • Do you stumble more?  
  • Do you find it difficult to perform simple tasks or have increased difficulty focusing or remembering?  
  • Do you have outbursts or fights that seem out of character?

Alcohol changes brain structure, and it makes some people more aggressive or quiet.

Looking at alcohol from this new perspective will hopefully stop you from ruining your life, avoiding negative life changes, and making life choices that hurt you in the long run. 

If you know someone who needs addiction treatment and behavioural therapies, our treatment centres in Abbeycare Scotland or Abbeycare Gloucester can get you started today. 


About the author

Peter Szczepanski

Pete has been on the GPhC register for 29 years. He holds a Clinical Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice and he is a Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Misuse for Abbeycare Gloucester and works as the Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Use in Worcestershire. To read more about Pete visit his LinkedIn profile.