Does Alcohol Make You Impulsive? Research Reveals Why

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With tons of holiday parties coming up, you had to have thought about what kind of drunk you are, versus what kind of drunk you need to be, while at a company holiday party. We all know that guy — the one who turns into a total jerk when he has had a beer too many, and suddenly becomes impulsive or aggressive. 

No one wants to be that guy, but according to a study published in Nature, a genetic mutation that makes people more impulsive when they consume alcohol may explain why some people are more prone to drinking while driving, an impulsive one night stand, or random acts of violence. The responsible mutation disrupts a gene called HTR2B, which according to the study the body uses to make serotonin receptors in parts of the brain that have a governing role in decision making and self-control.

However, according to the study, the genetic changes have only been found in Finland so far, where 2.2% of the genetically isolated population carry the mutation, which adds up to more than 100,000 people. Roope Tikkanen, a psychiatrist at the University of Helsinki, gathered information on impulsive behavior by analyzing a small group of people who carried the mutation as well as researching control members who did not have the mutation. The research found that that when compared to controls, the carriers had more aggressive outbursts, got into fights, and behaved in a more impulsive manner when under the influence of alcohol.

The carriers were not alcoholics as measured by their consumption, but had a tendency to lose control when they had a few drinks, he writes in the journal Translational Psychiatry. Although this mutation could be an indicator of what goes into your drunk personality, there are also many other factors that play into the personality that you have when intoxicated.

According to Joshua Gowin, Ph.D., of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in an article with Men’s Fitness, one factor that plays into your drunk personality is your sober personality“Like any drug, alcohol affects your behavior, but it doesn’t introduce behaviors that aren’t already present,” Gowin told Men’s Fitness.

Chances are good that if you are not impulsive at all when you are sober, you probably won’t be impulsive when you are drunk. However, there are also other factors that play a role in your drunk actions. Gowin explains that your environment, your mental state, and even your gender all play roles in your drunk personality.

And, sorry guys, according to Men’s Fitness, “Women produce up to 10 times more of a liver enzyme that breaks down alcohol, research has found. That means a woman’s body will usually process booze more quickly and she’ll feel alcohol’s effects more rapidly than a guy would, the research indicates.”

The key going into your holiday parties is to know your personality and how it changes when you are drinking. 

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