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When battling addiction or substance abuse, it is common for people to deal with anger issues. Often just simply angry at themselves but take it out on other people. Often shifting the blame on law enforcement or at society in general. Learning how to control anger positively and constructively can be difficult during the recovery process. Sometimes, for an addict the biggest hurdle is dealing with anger that comes after a relapse. Anger that gets out of control can cause many setbacks and can create relationship issues, physical and health problems, and even increase the chance of an overall decline in lasting recovery.

Anger and Addiction

Some people who are suffering from addiction have trouble dealing with their anger and finding a positive way to express feelings. Some feel as if drugs or alcohol is the only way to cope with their feelings.  When someone is unable to express their feelings positively, it can cause drug or alcohol abuse leading them to a destructive lifestyle. Living a healthy lifestyle with mindfulness, individuals can learn different ways to cope with and minimize their anger. When a person becomes angry, it may not always be a red flag warning; anger is only problematic when the individual cannot handle emotions and becomes a harm to themselves or others.

Attending counseling, stress management, anger management treatment or therapy sessions can all be beneficial in controlling anger. However, it can be harder to find stability in your life when choosing to abuse alcohol or drugs. Drugs and alcohol change your brain chemistry along with increasing anger without warning. Drugs and alcohol can also cause anger issues including:

Anger at Those Trying to Help
Often, friends and family members notice the warning signs of addiction or drug abuse before the abuser. They may even try to talk to their loved one regarding their drug problem with all intentions of trying to help. If the abuser is still in denial regarding their drug use, they may lash out and become angry. Some drug users can become violent while angry and resort to verbal abuse, physical violence or isolate themselves from their friends and family.  

Inability to Recognize the Cause of Anger
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is common for individuals who have issues with anger. However, when struggling with addiction, many people are unable to determine and understand the cause of anger. Instead, people with substance addiction believe they become angry because of withdrawal, family or friends “attacking” them for their abuse, or because they are unable to maintain responsibilities. When feeling anger, some try to self-medicate themselves. However, this is only a temporary fix. Instead, it is important to seek treatment for addiction and to recognize and understand any underlying issues that could be causing long-term anger.

Addiction and Self-Harm
Mental health and addiction tend to go together, and this is where dual diagnosis therapy can help treat both. Dealing with anxiety or depression are some mental health issues that can lead to drug abuse. Instead of being angry at friends or family, those who have poor self-esteem can begin feeling at fault for their addictions or even guilty. Having all these feelings can make an individual turn to self-harm and even suicide.

Why Can Addicts Not Control Their Anger?

When drugs and anger mix, it can be hard for one to think clearly and demonstrate positive actions and behaviors. A person suffering from addiction tends to have uncontrollable anger problems. The reasons for this can include

  • Denying the reason for their anger whether it be from sexual abuse, rape, loss of a loved one or another traumatic event. People with substance addiction often disregard their feelings, and this can cause anger and resentment.
  • Some addicts learn how to express their anger in an unhealthy way from parents or other relatives.
  • Built up anger towards themselves but taking it out on others around them.

Anger management therapy at Serenity Acres can help people learn the reasoning behind their anger and help them better express their feelings.

Why is Anger Management Important in Recovery

When you have aggressive behavior that becomes excessive, it can cause disturbing consequences such increased health issues, becoming a victim to circumstance, committing violence against someone or something,  or isolating yourself from friends and family. It is important to try to remember to leave anger in the past and focus on forgiveness. Remember to forgive others and yourself. An anger management program teaches how to control anger outbursts and emotions to reduce physical symptoms including muscle tension and increased heart rate.

During anger management treatment, having unresolved anger can trigger relapse, mainly if the anger has led the individual to substance abuse. Having unresolved anger can make it hard for one to focus on the recovery process and relapsing can cause more frustration or anger.

How to Manage Anger in Recovery

While in addiction recovery, individuals should focus on mental health disorders that may be the underlying issue of addiction or substance abuse. Anger management in addiction treatment is an important step to the recovery process. Anger management allows patients to recognize and work on negative or self-destructive behaviors all while learning different positive coping skills. Some common anger management methods include: 

  1. Breathing: Taking a deep breath when dealing with a difficult situation can help you gather your feelings. You may also even remove yourself from the situation and speak to an objective person. This could change your entire behavior and the way you react.
  2. Communication: When you become angry, there are positive and productive ways in which you can communicate that anger without increasing negativity to the situation. Learning communication skills allows patients to express themselves positively while also improving relationships freely.
  3. Coping with anger: There are many different positive outlets you can use to release anger. Participating in sports, writing your feelings or thoughts down, or exercise are all positive ways to express yourself productively and healthily.
  4. Removing yourself from toxic situations: Different people, environments, or situations can trigger anger or other negative emotions. Knowing these triggers and removing yourself from these situations can decrease your negative emotions as well as lower the risk of relapse. 

Dealing with anger in addiction treatment is an important step. If you battle anger and addiction or substance abuse, anger management may be the right form of therapy to learn how to control your anger and overcome addiction. When you are ready to take the first step to a happy, positive and healthy life, or to learn more about our addiction treatment and anger management therapy, contact Serenity Acres.