Raging alcoholics are usually binge drinkers. (although occasionally a daily drinker may rise to meet the standard on an especially excessive night). They have only one speed when it comes to alcohol – full throttle. Once they start, they continue drinking until they are hammered, usually until they pass out. There is a clear difference between when they are sober, when they have had a few and are still somewhat normal, and when they are hammered.
Their personality and their behavior changes. The timid become bold. The depressed might become joyful or they may just start sobbing inappropriately (like in a public place). Their actions are odd, but the changes are not entirely unpredictable. The people around them can tell when they have had enough alcohol to “let their crazy out”. Sometimes they do shameful things like kissing and groping their buddy’s wife but mostly their behavior is just humiliating and, of course, self-destructive.
Think of the nice little lady next door who suddenly hates men when she gets really intoxicated. The next day she is embarrassed about her outburst but not embarrassed enough to quit drinking. No, instead she isolates herself, she goes home when she reaches a certain level of intoxication, so she can keep indulging herself but without the public spectacle.
Think of a father who is emotionally distant from his family but every Friday night he drinks and slurs to his children “come on over here and give your old man a kiss” or “sit on my lap, baby”. I had a neighbor who did this, he didn’t physically hurt the kids, but he surely freaked them out with this weirdness. I have remained friends with his kids and they still talk about this. They make fun of him.
Raging Alcoholics can be overly intimate. They may tell you about the abuse they suffered as children, or how many abortions they have had, that they slept with their best friends wife, or other such “confessions”. Use great caution when sharing information with someone who gets that intoxicated. Things can get weird and you don’t want your secrets out there in plain view because they don’t know how to shut up.
Raging alcoholic does not equal evil. It usually means weird and messed up. Most raging alcoholics don’t inflict physical pain, they just inject a lot of emotional turmoil into their relationships. They are unreliable and chaotic.
Raging alcoholics make for terrible parents, spouses or employees. When they are drunk, they are useless and their hangovers (or withdrawal) takes days to get over. They may have only 2 or 3 days a week when they are not drunk or strung out. Of course, these 2 or 3 sober days will eventually become less and less.
Raging alcoholics plan. If they are like me, they will buy enough alcohol so that they can start drinking as soon as they regain consciousness. I always liked to start my binges on Friday, so I could drink on Saturday and use Sunday to nurse my hangover. (of course, towards the end, I just stopped stopping on Sundays and went until I could go no further). I avoided alcohol during the week because I knew once I started, I was not going to quit and that would interfere with working. Of course, the best plans don’t always work out. Many times, I was still drunk on Monday morning and had to miss work. I have a BS in Business Administration and an AAS as a paralegal and in my youth, I had an IQ of 154 and usually worked at menial labor jobs because I couldn’t keep a job that required responsibility.
Raging alcoholics suffer. They are sick, either from alcohol poisoning or from withdrawal. They are ashamed. They want to control their drinking but are not able to. They despise this weakness and dream of gaining control over their alcohol consumption. They have hopes for the future like everyone else, they are just to drunk or weakened from withdrawal to achieve them.
They are sober sometimes and can see how they have harmed themselves and the people around them. They know they should quit drinking.
They pity themselves; frequently with good reason. If you look at the history of the person you will nearly always find trauma of some sort. A family history of mental illness, parents who abused them, they have PTSD from a war, they were raped, and on and on. There is always trauma, many times there are multiple traumas, in their history. As an example, an average looking, depressed woman marries the first man who treats her halfway decently and then he begins to abuse her verbally or physically or both. There’s a snowball effect with trauma. It just “piles on” until it smashes you.
Raging alcoholics are not born; they are created by a series of failures and mistakes. A predisposition to alcoholism does not destine you to alcoholism, it just helps. If you add a little trauma you have a perfect storm. And trauma knows where to find victims. It is very good at that. When destiny and predisposition work together they are very powerful. Maybe even overwhelming.If you want to know why a raging alcoholic is the way he is, ask them this question. What happened that should not have happened, or what should have happened that did not happen. There is always a war, parents who were jackasses during the child’s formative years, a rape, or something else. Always.
(This doesn’t excuse them, but it does help explain it)
It is never the cells of the human body that cry out for ETOH (ethyl alcohol, the kind humans drink). It is always the “psyche or soul” that screams for it. (this is true for any drug)
(See my post on autonomic nervous system hyperactivity to understand why people want alcohol during withdrawal and my “stop drinking” post for a video covering neuroplasticity.)