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The 4 Types of Drunks According to Science + What It Means For You

Do people have a specific type of drunk personality? If so, what does say about our ability (or inability) to safely consume alcohol?

We’ll explore the various types of drunks, according to scientists, and the implications these behaviors have on our lives.

Why does alcohol change your personality?

There are a number of reasons why alcohol changes your personality, and why those changes can be unpredictable.

Alcohol affects your brain chemistry, which can make you feel relaxed and abnormally sociable. However, it also causes you to lose control of your emotions, making you act irrationally and become aggressive.

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 in order to restore balance. Sometimes this looks like slurring speech and getting a bit wobbly. Other times, it looks like anger and rage.

For individuals who drink large amounts of alcohol often, the effects start to fundamentally change how the person behaves. Alcohol impairs your ability to correctly assess physical and emotional threats. This creates an explosive personality, where you explode over seemingly little things.

You might also develop a paranoid personality, believing the world is somehow against you. Additionally, you might start to experience crippling hangxiety and become prone to physical fighting and aggression. Unfortunately, there is no clear way to predict which personality will pop up.

three people on the couch with alcohol in hands
types of drunks

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 basically the same drunk as they do sober and account for about 40% of drinkers.

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, but otherwise, their drunk personality is an enhanced version of their already bubbly personality.

3. The Nutty Professors

Nutty Professors tend to show the most personality change when drunk. They become uninhibited when they drink. Among all four types, Nutty Professors are the most likely to be natural introverts who come out of their shells when drunk. They become extremely extroverted and show the greatest decrease in 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 they tend to be loud and obnoxious. This personality is most likely to get into fights and wind up in jail for drinking-related altercations.

Considerations:

It’s important to acknowledge the limitations of the study that produced these four drunk personalities.

The sample-set was small and consisted of predominately white, undergraduate college students in the Midwest. The ways in which we can apply these findings to the wider populace are 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.

It’s important to keep that in mind when examining where you fit.

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 a number of different types of drunks at various points in your life. There is no one type of drunk that you will consistently be, but understanding the ways alcohol impacts your behavior is a useful 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 in ways that lead to increased aggression, anger, and irritability.

Alcohol causes aggression because it affects the brain’s neurotransmitters, which are responsible for controlling mood, emotions, and behavior. Some people are more susceptible to becoming angry drunks than others. Research has shown that individuals who are 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. 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 the day after.

3. The Sloppy Drunk

The term “sloppy drunk” is used to describe a person who engages in risky behaviors when drinking. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and impairs motor function, which creates what we call sloppiness. This is the type of drunk who appears disheveled but insists they aren’t drunk and continues to drink anyway.

Sloppy drunks are at risk of making terrible decisions like driving drunk, having unprotected sex with strangers, or blowing $1,000 shopping online.

4. The Blackout Drunk

A blackout drunk is someone who 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 of time.

Alcohol-induced blackouts are extremely dangerous and can be a sign of disordered drinking.

One in six US adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about seven drinks per binge.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm

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 become more emotional and less encumbered by perceived (or real) personal boundaries. Often this affection extends to complete strangers which can lead to ill-advised hookups and unsafe sex.

6. The Reckless Drunk

Reckless drunks tend more towards the Mr. Hyde personalities. 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 gene of the serotonin 2B receptor can make them more susceptible to drunken recklessness.

7. The Secret Drunk

Secret drunks are classic Hemmingways. These are the people who 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. That is because they must frequently increase their alcohol consumption in order 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, there are psychological and environmental factors that 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 strong, so you shouldn’t ignore its impact. If you truly believe that red wine makes you mean, don’t drink it.

woman is type of drunk who passes out on couch with eyes covered
exploring the different type of drunk personalities

Alcohol Abuse and The Different Types of Drunks: When to Worry

If your drinking and/or drunk personality type is negatively affecting your life, it’s good to step back and assess your relationship with alcohol.

You don’t have to fit the clinical definition of an alcoholic to benefit from a reduction or abstention from drinking. In fact, there are many gray areas of drinking to consider as well.

If you are not concerned about your drinking and generally only experience mild shifts in personality when you do 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 maintaing 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 drunk 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 important 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? Not necessarily. You’ll need to have an honest discussion with a medical professional to examine your options.

Access should not be a barrier to help.

Soberish is proudly sponsored by BetterHelp. If you have tried (and failed) to find a therapist who has the knowledge and background to help you navigate your specific issues, try BetterHelp. Learn more about my counseling journey with BetterHelp or visit their website below.

The following resources can help you get started:

two women passed out on party decorations behind title what is your drunk persona

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