anger and addiction

Anger is a strong emotion characterized by a strong sense of dissatisfaction, disapproval, or aggression. Anger management is often a necessary skill set for those who struggle with intense issues with anger. Being angry is a natural feeling that everyone experiences from time to time and, when expressed healthily, it is often a justifiable response. 

On the other hand, poor anger management can have several severe ramifications for individuals and their loved ones, particularly when addiction is involved. Anger depends on a variety of factors, including boundary violations or unresolved trauma. Whatever the reason, developing healthy ways to deal with anger is critical to avoiding substance abuse-related problems that arise or intensify due to inadequate anger management. Anger and addiction can be a very dangerous and harmful combination. Learning how to manage one’s anger while also recovering from addiction is a necessary challenge.

Anger, Domestic Violence, and Addiction

Anger is frequently linked to substance abuse problems. Children who grow up in families with a lot of rage and violence are more likely to be violent and use drugs as adults. Children who witness domestic abuse may experience the following symptoms, according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Fighting or bullying
  • Substance abuse
  • Social withdrawal
  • Poor academic performance
  • Rebellious or oppositional behavior

Witnessing domestic abuse or parental drug misuse when children are still developing personality traits and social skills can produce trauma, influencing their personality.

A final point to address is the impact of domestic violence on individuals. The earlier someone begins experimenting with harmful chemicals, the more problems they will experience as they get older in many adolescent substance misuse illnesses. This pattern can continue throughout adulthood, causing more problems down the road. If a person physically abuses their spouse, the abused individual may use dangerous substances to cope with despair, anxiety, and other forms of mental distress.

A Cycle of Anger and Addiction

Although rage is a healthy emotion, someone struggling with a substance use problem may find it challenging. A person who abuses alcohol, for example, may react with extreme rage depending on the situation. 

On the other hand, an individual may overuse alcohol to relieve anger, which often has the opposite impact. Chemicals can further disrupt and increase feelings of rage. Regardless of the sequence in which they arise from anger or substance addiction. Without recognizing it, people can quickly get into a cycle of anger and addiction. 

As a result, this combination can aggravate the condition of someone who abuses substances while also jeopardizing relationships. People can acquire transitory mental or emotional problems in response to rages, such as sadness or anxiety. A cycle may begin when the person consumes substances to cope with the repercussions.

Finding appropriate ways to express anger can be difficult. Individuals may become more aggressive or experiment with different drugs in search of a more satisfying high.

Dealing With Anger in a Healthy Way: Proactive Anger Management

The way a person handles anger might determine whether or not they live a healthy or unhealthy lifestyle. Denying anger can lead to feelings of frustration or irritability, which can hurt many aspects of one’s life. A healthy strategy to cope with this emotion can help to lessen the risks of substance abuse. People can manage rage constructively and beneficially by doing the following:

  1. Journaling
  2. Exercising
  3. Using humor to de-stress
  4. Spending quality time with loved ones
  5. Meditating, listening to calm music, yoga, etc.
  6. With forceful communication, you can feel it and let it go
  7. Taking up a creative pastime (i.e. drawing, painting, etc.)
  8. Developing self-awareness and an understanding of what causes you to be upset

Individuals may become enraged as a result of underlying feelings. Unresolved anger can also lead to shattered relationships, poor mental performance, and emotional wounds. All of these issues can lead to experimentation with substance misuse. If you’re having trouble, seek assistance from a professional who can address both issues.

If you have a problem with anger, you can apply what you learned in addiction treatment to help you handle it. Since anger can be a relapse trigger, you should work with your therapist to establish effective anger coping mechanisms.

When working on anger management, remember that unbridled anger is a problem in and of itself, not just a reaction to one. When you see unbridled rage as a separate issue, you’ll be able to employ solutions to manage it more effectively.

How to Deal With Anger

Anger is a strong emotion that can appear out of nowhere, and it can be challenging to think clearly and rationalize what’s going on or how you got there in the first place when you’re overwhelmed by it. 

Particular mental and physical health challenges can cause anger issues to arise. Substance abuse can also trigger anger issues. Triggers could include people, places, or events. For these reasons, you must be proactive in combating and controlling this harmful emotion before it forces you to relapse.

Keeping a journal can be beneficial. If you keep track of these flare-ups, you might notice trends. You may be able to determine that particular stressors are driving your outbursts as a result of this. Once you’ve identified what triggers your reaction, you might try to avoid the individuals, discussions, or situations that trigger it.

Journaling can help you to become more self-aware. This allows you to intervene, alter, and take steps toward emotional freedom. Keep track of the actions or mindsets you employ to keep the situation under control. This will help you see which approaches are more successful and likely to have a short-term or no effect.

Some other ways you can work to manage anger in your life include the following: 

  • Find a repetitive focus. Counting is a tried-and-true method for many people. You don’t have to count to 10; go as long as you need, measuring as high as you need to until you’re able to think more clearly about the problem. Others may prefer to repeat a pleasant or soothing term or phrase until they feel calmer, such as “slow down” or “be calm”.
  • Relax. Certain approaches or practices can assist you in releasing tension and relaxing by reducing both the physical and emotional manifestations of rage. Breathing techniques, positive imagery (seeing a tranquil picture or a happy memory), yoga, taking a warm bath or shower, gardening, birdwatching, or listening to soothing music are just a few examples.
  • Distract yourself. Try to divert your attention away from the upsetting circumstance. For some, it may be as simple as thinking about something else. In contrast, others may require a more concrete distraction, such as exercising, playing a sport or game, or reading a favorite book in more challenging situations.
  • Substitute a different emotion or experience in the place of anger. Certain things conflict with anger, and these clashes can lead to another feeling that can entirely or partially replace the anger. Do what brings you joy, such as hugging a friend or partner, laughing, or spending time with your pet. When you’re battling to control your anger, doing these things may seem awkward and artificial, but they can help you diffuse things before things get out of hand.

These techniques may also benefit people with more severe anger issues. In fact, a therapist may advise you to incorporate some of them into your daily routine. Those who suffer from more powerful kinds of rage may benefit from going beyond these self-help techniques and seeking the support of behavioral health professionals.

Anger Management: Why It’s Important For Recovery

anger management  and substance abuse

A significant portion of addiction treatment is devoted to practicing relapse prevention skills, such as anger management. People recovering from substance abuse have a considerable risk of relapse. 

It’s true that the statistics on relapse emphasize the need for relapse prevention. They show why effective anger management is one of the most critical components of relapse prevention. They do not, however, forecast your future. As you recover from addiction, you will find that there is absolutely hope for lifelong freedom from addiction and struggles with anger.

Anger and the Stages Of Relapse

Addiction treatment professionals divide relapse into three stages: the emotional stage, the mental step, and the physical location. When a recovering individual experiences unpleasant feelings like anger or grief for some time, they become emotional. Isolation, a lack of emotional expression, and a failure to attend recovery meetings indicate emotional relapse.

Negative emotions might lead to a mental state of relapse. When a person has a mental deterioration, they begin to fantasize about using drugs or alcohol again and romanticize memories of doing so. Cravings start, and people cease avoiding high-risk situations to prevent them.

Physical relapse occurs when a person consumes alcohol or drugs again. Unchecked anger is a significant threat to recovery. It can potentially lead to relapse and disrupt a person’s commitment to sobriety.

Treating Anger and Addiction Simultaneously

For some people, inappropriate outbursts of anger may indicate the presence of a more severe problem. Specific mental health issues, such as sadness and anxiety, might intensify, making a person angry.

Angry outbursts are common in bipolar disorder, PTSD, antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and intermittent explosive disorder. People who suffer from these illnesses may have little or no control over their emotions at times. They are also much more prone than the average person to experience intense anger and other emotions. As a result, the treatment to address these disorders may be significantly more intensive.

Other people’s methods of dealing with anger may not work—or only work temporarily—for these individuals. Working with a behavioral health professional can assist people in dealing with their mental health issues. 

Then, you can address the core of the anger problem in addition to the anger itself if you have these or any other co-occurring disorders. You can only create the framework for a successful and long-term recovery by providing adequate care and attention to all of these circumstances, including substance usage.

Leaning on Loved Ones for Anger Management in Sobriety

Talk to your partner, friends, parents, siblings, members of your religious group, or anyone else you know who can lend an ear and a shoulder. Your counselor and sponsor are fantastic resources and will undoubtedly help you heal, but you’ll also want to have individuals close to you. When dealing with the darker aspects of yourself, it’s critical to maintain contact with folks familiar with both the dark and bright sides of you.

If your anger or addiction difficulties have caused many of your loved ones to remove themselves from you, even now that you’re sober, remember that your relationships may be repaired with time and effort. In the meantime, inquire about local support groups with your sponsor or counselor. Make it a point to speak out at meetings if you’re a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or a similar group. After the meeting, introduce yourself to others or check if anyone wants to have a cup of coffee. Suggest going to the park as a group to get some fresh air and sunshine.

Even if they don’t have an anger management issue specifically, they’ll be judgment-free of your past and be the first to cheer you on for every step in the right direction. It might be challenging to get back out there and meet new people, especially early in recovery, but meetings are a terrific way to meet people who understand your struggles. They’ll be able to comprehend the significance of even seemingly minor developments in a way that your loved ones won’t; that type of insight can make all the difference.

Let Coastal Detox Help You Find Peace Today!

To acquire and maintain sobriety takes a lot of effort and determination. If you’re concerned that anger or other unpleasant emotions may keep you from holding a drug-free and alcohol-free lifestyle by driving you to relapse, seek treatment before it gets that far.

Anger and addiction make a worrisome pair. But we’re here to assist you! We have a compassionate and caring staff waiting to assist you in getting the help you need to keep on track with your rehabilitation. Contact Coastal Detox today to get started on a healthy path to recovery.