The Elusive Difference Between Drunk and Sober

How much alcohol does it take to transform someone into a completely different person? A new study published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science reveals that it isn’t any amount of alcohol that changes who drinkers believe they are, but the drinker’s perception of themselves.

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Two large groups of participants were split into smaller groups and were tasked with a trying task of group puzzles and games. During the challenge, the participants had to rate their personality traits and observe how they thought they were acting. In addition, outside observers watched these participants on camera and made their own objective ratings.

The need to observe changes in personality was necessitated by the fact that one group of participants had consumed a number of cocktails in a short fifteen-minute period, thus engaging in the tasks drunk. To the outside observer, those who were intoxicated did not seem significantly different once they were drunk. To the drunk, however, they found themselves to be less agreeable, less conscientious, less neurotic, more extroverted, and less open to new experiences, according to Metro UK.

After getting sober and entering treatment, the alcoholic is tasked with looking deep within themselves and evaluating their decisions, morality, and perceptions. Everything is challenged as the alcoholic begins to identify their defects of character, the small flaws and imperfections which had gone unnoticed and became catalysts for drinking.

The alcoholic is renown for their ego creating delusions of grandeur in self-image. Once an alcoholic discovers their “character defects” a question is begged to be asked: was it the alcoholism that caused the alcoholic behavior or the alcoholic behaviour which caused the alcoholism? Alcoholism can bring out the worst in people when they think it is bringing out the best. As the study shows, it might not be the drink itself but the perception of the self when drunk. Alcohol for many is an escape. It is possible that the idealized fantasy of escaping into alcohol and turning into a different person when drunk could be more the problem than the mind-altering effects of alcohol itself. Either way, treatment for and recovery from alcoholism is a necessity for overcoming the character defects and changes in personality that contribute to a desire for drinking.


Smarmore Castle Private Clinic wants to help you and your family discover the joys of recovery. Our residential treatment programmes are designed to restore optimum health to mind, body, and spirit. Call to speak with one of our caring staff members today for more information on how Smarmore can be part of your recovery journey. Real change is possible. +353 41 986 5080.

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