Do people have a specific type of drunk personality? If so, what does it say about our ability (or inability) to consume alcohol safely?
I’ll explore the various types of drunks and the implications these behaviors have on our lives.
- Why does alcohol change your personality?
- Four Types of Drunk Personalities
- 7 Different Types of Drunks
- Do different alcohols have different types of drunks?
- Alcohol Abuse and The Different Types of Drunks: When to Worry
- What to Do if You Think You Have a Drinking Problem
Why does alcohol change your personality?
There are several reasons why alcohol changes your personality and why those changes can be unpredictable.
Alcohol affects your brain chemistry, making you feel relaxed and abnormally sociable. However, it also causes you to lose control of your emotions, making you act irrationally and aggressively.
When you first start drinking, your brain becomes flooded with dopamine. It’s why you feel euphoric and like a social butterfly.
However, as you drink more, the brain overcompensates for the dopamine rush by dialing back the dopamine to restore balance. Sometimes this looks like slurring speech and getting a bit shaky. Other times, it looks like anger and rage.
Alcohol impairs your ability to correctly assess physical and emotional threats, creating explosive drunk alter egos that erupt over seemingly little things.
You might also develop a paranoid personality, believing the world is somehow against you, and become prone to physical fighting and aggression.
Unfortunately, there is no clear way to predict which personality will pop up.
Four Types of Drunk Personalities
Psychology researchers out of the University of Missouri conducted a study of 374 undergraduates to examine our personalities under the influence of alcohol. They came up with four distinct personalities that manifest when drinking.
1. The Hemingways
Hemmingways are named after famed writer and notorious heavy drinker Ernest Hemingway. They behave the same drunk as they do sober and account for about 40% of drinkers.
Sadly, the Hemingways are more prone to alcoholism as they exhibit the highest tolerance to alcohol. This is unsurprising, considering Ernest Hemingway was a notorious alcoholic.
2. The Mary Poppins
Poppins personalities are individuals who are already pleasant and outgoing but become more so when they drink.
The primary difference for Poppins types is that they become more extroverted; otherwise, their drunk personality is an enhanced version of their already bubbly personality.
These are the elusive “happy” drunks, although they are not impervious to the negative consequences of drinking too much.
3. The Nutty Professors
Nutty Professors tend to show the most personality change when drunk. They become much more uninhibited.
Among all four types, Nutty Professors are the most likely to be natural introverts who come out of their shells when drunk, which makes their transformation more noticeable.
They become highly extroverted and show the most significant decreases in agreeableness and conscientiousness.
4. The Mr. Hydes
The “Mr. Hyde” drinking personality is someone who drinks too much alcohol, gets drunk, and then acts like a complete idiot.
This person usually has a bad temper and may be aggressive towards others. They often drink alone at bars and tend to be loud and obnoxious.
This personality is most likely to exhibit aggressive behavior, get into fights, and end up in jail for alcohol-related altercations.
Considerations To Note:
It’s important to acknowledge the study’s limitations that produced these four drunk personalities.
The sample set was small and consisted of predominately white undergraduate college students in the Midwest. How we can apply these findings to the broader populace is debatable.
It’s also important to note that we might not consistently fit one personality type all the time. Human beings are complex and volatile. So are the effects of alcohol on individuals.
Excessive drinking has the power to change our entire personalities and behavior in fundamental ways. You may exhibit qualities of multiple drunk personas at various stages of your drinking life.
Now that we’ve examined the drunk personas from the Missouri study let’s take a slightly different approach by digging into the different drunk types.
7 Different Types of Drunks
Alcohol affects people differently and can produce a wide range of types of drunks.
For those with more volatile drunk personalities (i.e., Nutty Professors and Mr. Hydes), you might recognize yourself in one or more of the following types.
It’s also possible that you’ve been several different drunks at various points in your life.
There is no one type of drunk you will consistently be, but understanding how alcohol impacts your behavior is a helpful tool in judging the health of your relationship with drinking.
1. The Angry Drunk
These are the Mr. Hydes of the world. Alcohol affects their brain chemistry, leading to increased aggression, anger, and irritability.
Alcohol affects the brain’s neurotransmitters, which control mood, emotions, and behavior. Some people are more susceptible to becoming angry drunks than others.
Research has shown that individuals focused primarily on the present, without much regard for future consequences, are more likely to show aggression when drinking.
These individuals are more prone to getting into fights when intoxicated and engaging in domestic violence.
2. The Happy Drunk
Conversely, you have the happy drunk. This person is more aligned with the Poppins drunk personality, and they are chipper and euphoric, even as they become impaired.
Many people will start off as happy drunks before devolving into another type.
It’s important to note, however, that being a happy drunk does not protect against becoming someone who experiences anxiety and depression after a night of drinking.
This quickly becomes a dangerous cycle where individuals use alcohol to alleviate anxiety symptoms, only to experience heightened anxiety levels the day after.
More>> What is Hangxiety?
3. The Sloppy Drunk
The term “sloppy drunk” describes a person engaging in risky drinking behaviors.
Alcohol lowers inhibitions and impairs motor function, which creates what we call sloppiness. This type of drunk appears disheveled but insists they aren’t drunk and continues to drink anyway.
Sloppy drunks risk making terrible decisions like driving drunk, having unprotected sex with strangers, or blowing $1,000 shopping online.
4. The Blackout Drunk
A blackout drunk has consumed too much alcohol and cannot remember anything after waking up. It often happens after an episode of binge drinking – consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short period.
Alcohol-induced blackouts are extremely dangerous and can be a sign of disordered drinking.
These alcohol consumption patterns correlate with higher incidents of memory blackouts and other alcohol-related harms.
5. The Affectionate Drunk
Affectionate drunks are people who become very touchy-feely after they’ve had some drinks. This is another manifestation of lowered inhibitions.
Alcohol can make us more emotional and less encumbered by perceived (or real) personal boundaries. Often this affection extends to complete strangers, leading to ill-advised hookups and unsafe sex.
6. The Reckless Drunk
Reckless drunks tend more toward the Mr. Hyde personality. They aren’t necessarily aggressive or angry, but they are incredibly impulsive. They engage in risky behavior that puts themselves and others in jeopardy of physical harm.
Research has shown that individuals with a specific mutation in the serotonin 2B receptor gene can make them more susceptible to drunken recklessness.
7. The Secret Drunk
Secret drunks are classic Hemmingways. These people can “hold their liquor” and drink to excess without ever appearing to get truly drunk.
This is not necessarily a good thing.
Hemmingways, much like the man for whom this group is named, are susceptible to alcohol addiction and dependence, and they must frequently increase alcohol consumption to get the same effects.
Do different alcohols have different types of drunks?
In short, no. But there is a caveat.
Whereas there is no scientific evidence that different alcohol creates different types of drunks, psychological and environmental factors may affect how you respond to certain types of alcohol.
Chemically, all alcohol is ethanol.
The amount of ethanol in various alcoholic beverages varies, but that is the only real difference.
Psychologically, though, it’s not so cut and dry.
Expectancy is a psychological term that describes the relationship between external stimuli and our response to them.
If you associate drinking tequila with out-of-control behavior and believe that tequila makes you wild, you may be more inclined to become a reckless drunk on tequila.
The placebo effect is powerful, so you shouldn’t ignore its impact. If you genuinely believe that red wine makes you mean, don’t drink it.
Alcohol Abuse and The Different Types of Drunks: When to Worry
If your drinking and/or drunk personality type negatively affects your life, it’s good to step back and assess your relationship with alcohol.
If you are not concerned about your drinking and generally only experience mild shifts in personality when you drink, there’s probably nothing to worry about.
However, that’s not the case for everyone.
If you are worried about a loved one’s drinking or your own, here are some warning signs to look out for:
- Your behavior is increasingly erratic.
- You have difficulty maintaining relationships.
- You’ve injured someone and/or become injured while drinking.
- You engage in risky behaviors.
- You’ve been arrested or experienced trouble at work due to drinking.
- Your drunken behavior is causing you to lose friends and opportunities.
What to Do if You Think You Have a Drinking Problem
If you think you might have a problem with drinking, it’s crucial to get help. You can start by connecting with others virtually or in person via support groups, making an appointment with your doctor, or reaching out to a mental health professional for guidance.
Take the warning signs seriously.
Does it mean you’ll have to quit drinking permanently? You’ll need to have an honest discussion with a medical professional to examine your options.
You don’t have to figure this out on your own.
The following resources can help you get started:
- The Top 17 Online Sobriety Support Spaces
- What to Expect When You Quit Drinking for 30 Days
- Are You An Alcoholic? Learn the Warning Signs
- What Does Alcoholism Look Like? You Might Be Surprised.