Anger and Addiction
Anger is an emotion that many addicts feel but is often not expressed appropriately or is repressed. Some individuals will drink or use drugs when feeling angry. Anger is often a confusing emotion and sometimes it is difficult to pinpoint where the anger is coming from or what to do with it. Anger by itself is an appropriate emotion that many people experience. Anger can come from many sources including an argument with a loved one or difficulties at work. At the core, anger is often not about feeling angry but more about feeling helpless. A person who feels that their life is unmanageable or is out of control, may experience anger but what they are really feeling is helplessness.
When a person copes with the feelings of anger through drink or drug, they are not addressing or processing the emotion of anger. They are using a substance to mask the anger. Over time the individual may feel increased anger and continue to drink more or use more drugs to overcome the angry feelings. This can become a destructive cycle for many addicts.
Managing the emotion of anger is necessary in recovery. Many individuals relapse due to feeling angry and out of control with nowhere to turn except to a drink, a pill, or some other drug. Anger is an emotion experienced by all and can serve as a motivator for change or can help us to understand our emotional processes and what needs to be changed.
In order to properly manage anger during recovery, there are few steps one can incorporate into their daily lives to appropriately address this feeling.
When feeling angry, stop, take a breath, and calm down. If talking to a particular person brings about feelings of anger, walk away. Talk to them later when you are feeling more calm.
Express your anger in more appropriate ways. Many find that writing in a journal when feeling angry can help to address the anger. Through writing, you might find the source of the anger and be able to address it appropriately. Dancing to music or drawing a picture can help to reduce the feelings of anger.
Early in your recovery, avoid people or situations in which you might feel anger. If these situations or people bring about angry feelings that are not addressed, it could lead to relapse.
During recovery, you may find yourself becoming angry at the hurt you’ve caused others and this is a normal part of the recovery process. Finding appropriate ways in which to manage this anger will be an important component of your recovery.