We all have that one friend. Everyone’s out at the bar having a great time, but then there’s a seismic shift. At some point between drink number five and drink number six, he or she changes. Dr. Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde. Beauty becomes the Beast. From there, things get gruesome and that good time takes a 180. Now, instead of joking with your friends or getting your dance on with your squad, you find yourself at the other end of a vicious attack from a belligerent drunk. Night ruined.
Well, it looks like we all might have to be a little more understanding and sympathetic toward those mean old drunks. Turns out, there could be a genetic reason for why some people turn on a dime when they get just enough alcohol coursing through their veins. Researchers at the University of Helsinki’s psychiatry clinic believe they have identified a genetic mutation that causes those carrying it to be more susceptible to recklessly rash and hostile behavior when they’re drunk.
This finding comes after previous research discovered HTR2B, which is a variation of the serotonin 2B receptor gene linked to impulsivity. So those plucky researchers in Finland decided to put two and two together to see if people with this mutation acted out more once they had been drinking. Partnering with the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the researchers observed 170 people in a study that was recently published in Transitional Psychiatry.
The main finding? People with this specific genetic mutation were more likely to become those horribly awful drunks, make poor decisions such as driving while under the influence and even exhibit symptoms of and be more prone to mood disorders. Unfortunately, this study did not involve researchers getting participants stinking drunk in order to observe their inebriated behavior; if that were the case, they probably would’ve gotten a lot more than 170 subjects. Rather, each subject self-reported their personality traits, drinking habits and the impulsivity and aggression they tend to exhibit both drunk and sober.
Each participant underwent a psychiatric evaluation in addition to their self-reporting, because how reliable can that nonsense really be? Out of the 170 subjects, 14 were identified as having the genetic mutation and were singled out as being more aggressive and impulsive when drunk than the average person. While larger samples sizes need to be observed in order to produce any conclusive or definitive results on whether a person’s genes are truly to blame for their drunken behavior, at least those drunks (you know who you are) could have a scientific-based excuse to pull out for why they’re such an asshole after drinking.