How to Handle an Aggressive Person under the Influence

on Monday, 09 February 2015. Posted in Breaking News

Drinking and drug use can radically alter a person's behavior and character. Almost everyone occasionally has moments where they feel angry or frustrated at someone else's behavior, but most people are able to vent their anger in relatively helpful ways, by communicating with the person involved, expressing your hurt or disappointment with a supportive friend, or finding outlets to "let off steam."

However, there are people who struggle with expressing anger in a healthy way, are more irritable, less able to manage their anger and display lower levels of empathy, and they are more likely to "lash out" and attack the person toward whom they are feeling anger. For people who are already predisposed towards aggression, the influence of alcohol or drugs can sometimes be the tipping point that leads to violent behavior.

Drugs and alcohol alter the brain's chemistry; lowering executive systems that make a person stay "under control." A person under the influence is more likely to act without inhibitions and on whims.

For some, this means they will be more likely to engage in violent or aggressive behavior. If you are in a relationship with someone with a substance abuse problem, there is a possibility they could become aggressive. Here are some helpful tips to know how to deal with what is often a scary situation.

Protect yourself

Your first goal when dealing with an unpredictable and violent person should be protecting yourself. Look for a plan of escape, have backup, and be prepared to simply leave the situation and call for the police or a trained councilor.

The situation may be so bad that you may be unable to control it. If that is the case, prioritize your own safety and simply get out.

Do everything you can to keep things calm

Aggressive people frequently get more aggressive when they feel threatened and "backed into a corner" (literally or figuratively). You want to do everything you can to try to de-escalate the situation.

Try speaking in a low, slow calm voice, and be careful that your body language comes across as non-threatening. Keep a greater distance away from the affected person then you normally would, and do everything with slowness and gentleness.

Meeting a person's anger will simply inflame them further, but projecting calmness can often help to bring things down.

Prod gently; do not command

A person under the influence is not going to be able to respond to logic or reasoning. Even though you are the sane one in this situation, they are not going to be able to hear anything that furthers their perception that they are being threatened.

Reframe everything you say as a question or choices, saying "Do you want to come with me?" or "would you like to sit down and talk about it?" instead of anything that could seem like yelling back. Even if you do feel verbally attacked, try your hardest to not act aggressively as well.

Someone deep under the influence will be deeply distractible, and you can use that to your advantage by not engaging them directly, but switching to safer topics, or even blurting out random words to confuse them.

Keep the conversation limited to the matter at hand

When a person is under the influence, their mind is radically altered, so that a person's true self disappears, and the drugs take over. This is not the time for an intervention, so in general it might be good to avoid confronting them directly about their drug or alcohol use

They are not able to think rationally, and will simply respond defensively or with more anger. Try to do what you can to get them to calm down, and then let time do its work. With rest, the effects of the drugs will wear off, at which time you will have a greater ability to have a real discussion about a person's destructive habits.

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