Alcohol abuse can have some very disconcerting and unpredictable effects. One of these might manifest in angry outbursts, violent behavior, or rage, and another is the phenomenon called blackouts. Sometimes these two effects can happen simultaneously, resulting in a drunk rage blackout.
Because alcoholism is a complex disease that impacts brain structures and chemistry, it is difficult to grasp the reasons why these things effects happen. Alcohol intoxication is often associated with violent behavior or rage as the substance reduces inhibitions and impairs judgment. While under the influence of alcohol, it is difficult to accurately judge another person’s intentions so their actions are sometimes misjudged as provocative. This can cause someone who is intoxicated to lash out aggressively. Consequences of such violent behaviors are not even considered at the time they occur.
An alcohol-induced blackout can happen when the individual consumes too much alcohol too quickly. This interferes with the brain’s ability to form memory connections. The more alcohol that is consumed, the higher the level of memory loss will be. Some may lose a block of minutes or hours, or even days, depending on the amount of alcohol that was consumed.
A drunk rage blackout happens when both of these conditions, anger and memory loss, merge. A personality change that happens when drinking to excess, such as becoming aggressive and angry, may also lead to a blackout if the large amount of alcohol was consumed too quickly. In these cases the result is the drunk rage blackout. For example, while heavily intoxicated, someone may commit a violent act, such as inflicting physical harm or raping someone, and then blacks out having no memory of the event.
About Alcoholic Drunk Rages
There is a well-documented link between alcohol abuse and aggression or violence. A report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Addiction (NIAAA) confirms that about 50% of sexual assault crimes involved individuals who had been drinking alcohol when the offense occurred. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, about 36% of perpetrators of crime had been drinking at the time.
Alcohol impacts the individual’s ability to control their emotions when triggered. The alcohol can impair the individual’s executive functions, the region of the brain associated with decision-making, emotional regulation, and impulse control.
When it comes to the relationship between spouses, alcohol can provoke aggressive or violent behavior toward the spouse, especially in couples where both partners struggle with alcohol use disorder. The combination of alcohol abuse and poor emotional regulation can result in domestic violence, in which a spouse physically or sexually assaults their partner. A comprehensive couples rehabilitation program may help the partners achieve sobriety together and participate in aftercare activities together following rehab.
Addressing the subject of domestic violence and alcohol abuse,
NIAAA Director Enoch Gordis, M.D., “One study found decreased levels of marital violence in couples who completed behavioral marital therapy for alcoholism and remained sober during follow-up.” This study, published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, documents the positive effects of behavioral couples therapy (BCT) within the larger addiction treatment setting.
About Alcoholic Blackouts
There are two types of blackouts that can result from alcohol abuse. These in include the partial, or fragmentary, blackout where the individual may remember what happened when prompted by clues, and the complete, or en bloc, blackout when the individual recalls absolutely nothing. In other words, in a complete blackout the loss of memory is permanent.
Blackouts are dangerous events, as the individual basically loses the ability to be cogent or aware of their actions. This can lead to accidents, falls, or violent actions. In most cases, the individual will pass out from intoxication and sleep off the effects of the alcohol, but in the morning may remember nothing about a specific period of time from the prior night. Generally, middle-aged males experience the most blackouts.
Recognizing Alcohol Addiction or Dependency
Alcoholism can affect people in different ways. For some, the problem comes on slowly and under the radar. Alcohol may make the individual appear to be calm and relaxed and nothing more. It may be years before a consistent escalation in consumption might begin triggering negative effects in their life. For others, an alcohol addiction might change a person’s personality. These signs are overt and obvious, as the personality changes are usually negative. They may become verbally or physically abusive when under the influence of alcohol, or they might drink to the point of rage blackouts. It is easier to detect an alcohol use disorder when the effects are so obvious.
Some of the warning signs for a growing alcohol problem might include:
- Increasing tolerance resulting in increased consumption
- Beginning to neglect responsibilities at home or at work
- Obsess about drinking, planning the day around drinking, looking for opportunities to drink
- Declining work performance
- Falling behind on bills, getting fired, spending more money on alcohol
- Lying about how much they drink, hiding alcohol around the house or at work
- Waking up sick
- Missing work due to hangovers
- Getting into an accident or a DUI arrest
- Relationship problems
- Attempting to quit drinking but cannot stop drinking
- Experiences withdrawal symptoms if alcohol is withheld
Getting Help for Alcoholism
An effective alcohol recovery program will utilize a variety of treatment elements that are designed to work cohesively to help individuals overcome the alcohol dependency, and to then transition to a new sober lifestyle. Each rehab program will differ slightly based on philosophy, services, and specialties, but most alcohol recovery programs will offer the following treatment modalities:
Medical Detox and Withdrawal. Detoxification involves elimination of the toxins associated with the alcohol from the body, allowing the individual time to stabilize over a period of a week to ten days. Detox is necessary prior to beginning the treatment phase, allowing the individual t
o begin the program with a clear head.
During the detox and withdrawal phase there are three distinct stages: The emerging stage, the acute stage, and the subsiding stage. Certain factors, such as length of alcohol addiction, amount of alcohol regularly consumed, genetics, age, general health, and existence of a co-occurring mental health disorder, will all influence the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms range from mild to severe depending largely on those factors.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Mood swings
- Foggy thinking
- Mental confusion
- Increased blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature
The individual will be closely monitored by trained detox professionals throughout the detox phase, and as withdrawal symptoms intensify will administer necessary medications.
Evidence-based therapies. These are clinically studied therapies that resulted in statistically significant results. Clients will engage in the therapy best suited to their own specific needs and underlying factors. All of these therapies work toward assisting the client to change their behaviors by guiding them toward recognizing disordered thinking and addiction behavior responses. Some examples of evidence-base therapies include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and contingency management.
Group sessions. Peer interaction during group therapy sessions is considered an essential treatment element, as this format fosters social support. These sessions offer the participants a supportive space to share their personal stories, and convey their fears, disappointments, and hopes
Recovery classes. Recovery tools are taught, equipping individuals in recovery with new coping skills and better communication techniques that will benefit them when encountering challenges in recovery. The classes also guide the individual in creating a relapse prevention strategy.
Holistic activities. Techniques that help to regulate stress and anxiety are essential coping tools that are useful in the rehab environment as well as life after rehab. These activities might include learning how to practice mindfulness meditation, yoga classes, therapeutic massage, acupuncture, deep breathing exercises, aromatherapy, and music and art therapy.
Anger Management Issues
One of the components during treatment for alcoholism is the psychosocial education piece. These are classes that provide instruction about how to improve interpersonal relating. One of the topics usually revolves around emotion regulation and anger management. An individual who, when in his or her alcohol addiction, was prone to angry outbursts or rages may have had existing anger management issues or an explosive personality. In recovery, it is important to address that propensity towards violence and learn effective coping skills that help change the tendency toward anger.
Ongoing Recovery Support After Rehab
After the individual or couple has completed an addiction treatment program there are steps they can take to support sobriety going forward. Protecting recovery is essential when the objective is to avoid any future drunk rage blackout events. Continuing on with aftercare efforts, such as participation in a recovery community and individual and group outpatient therapy will go a long way toward reinforcing sobriety and calm in the home.
There are also family groups that are designed to aid the family members in their support of their loved one’s recovery journey. Understanding the role of family therapy as a dimension of the overall healing picture is essential to recovery success.
Solutions 4 Recovery Addiction and Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Alcoholism
Solutions 4 Recovery offers a comprehensive addiction and dual diagnosis alcohol treatment program in Orange County, California. As a leader in the addiction recovery field, Solutions 4 Recovery carves out a distinctive niche by offering a fully customized approach to treating alcoholism, tailored to specifically address each individual’s unique recovery needs. As part of the program, Solutions 4 Recovery offers support for families of alcoholics through couples therapy and family therapy resources, understanding the importance of treating all who might have been affected by the drunk rage blackouts. For more information about the program, please contact Solutions 4 Recovery today at (888) 417-1874.