Even though we all experience anger from time to time, poor management of our temper can trigger impulsive, irrational behavior that often causes a number of negative consequences. This is especially true for individuals recovering from addiction challenges. Whether your anger is brought on by unhealed trauma, stress, or personal problems at school, work, or home, unbridled annoyance, displeasure, irritability, and hostility can make you feel like you want to drink or use drugs again. Luckily, anger management classes can help you learn how to deal with your anger in a healthy way.
The Relationship Between Anger and Addiction
Research continues to show a connection between anger and addiction and substance use. Children who grow up in environments with aggression and violence have a greater risk of abusing drugs and alcohol when they become adults. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry explains that children witnessing violence often deal with:
- Low self-esteem
- Bullying and fighting tendencies
- Social withdrawal
- Poor academic performance
Unfortunately, all of these symptoms can also increase a child’s risk of substance abuse later in life.
Anger can also be a sign of immense hurt and pain. We don’t get angry for no reason. Often, we get angry when we’re hurt. Typically, that anger spurs us to action in an attempt to fix the situation. When we can’t immediately fix our pain, our anger can turn inward, leading to depression and anxiety. When this happens, what began as hurt now turns into long-term anger, depression, anxiety, and repression. That unresolved pain builds up, provoking many people to use drugs or alcohol to feel numb.
Unfortunately, addictive substances can worsen anger issues, impair your judgment, inhibit self-control, and make you act out in violent, aggressive ways. Luckily, many treatment programs, including Genesis Recovery, offer anger management programs that can help you effectively deal with anger and recover from addiction.
Why Should Addiction Treatment Programs Include Anger Management?
Recovering from addictive substances can trigger a number of emotions. Detoxification, or detox, is a process that eliminates substances from the body. While this is a positive step, the detox process can also provoke withdrawal symptoms such as anger and hostility. Even after physical withdrawal symptoms dissipate, many recovering addicts continue to feel irritation throughout the recovery process. If not managed correctly, unresolved anger and passive-aggressive behavior can inhibit the recovery process in a number of ways.
Anger can cause addicted individuals in recovery to:
- Alienate themselves from therapists, behavioral experts, and counselors
- Stonewall during behavioral therapy sessions
- Respond sarcastically to questions posed during individual or group counseling
- Avoid the vulnerability needed to truly recover from addiction
Anger management works to combat these issues by helping individuals explore their reasons for anger and assisting them in finding healthy ways to control their temper.
How Does Anger Management Benefit Addiction Recovery?
Unbridled anger can easily lead to relapse. Fortunately, anger management can help recovering addicts avoid relapse. Here’s how.
Anger Management Can Help Reveal Triggers
One of the easiest ways to avoid relapse is to limit your exposure to the feelings, places, people, and situations that trigger you. When you’re angry or feeling irritable, your brain seeks to comfort you. If you’ve developed the habit of drinking or using drugs to help calm you down, anger may compel you to turn to addictive substances. Knowing what triggers your anger can help you avoid these kinds of tempting situations.
Anger management classes help you realize what truly makes you angry. During various sessions, you may be asked questions like:
- “What type of people or situations make you angry?
- “What do you do when you’re angry?”
- “How do you think your anger affects others around you?”
Understanding the root causes of your anger can help you avoid anger-inducing situations that may trigger drug and alcohol cravings.
Anger Management Can Help Diminish Aggressive Behavior
When you can’t avoid frustrating situations, anger management can teach you how to effectively respond to triggering situations without becoming aggressive or passive-aggressive. Truly recovering from addiction requires vulnerability. You’ll have to open up about your past, address some of your fears, ask for forgiveness, and maybe even forgive people who have hurt you in the past. That’s where change and growth happens. Unfortunately, anger impedes vulnerability.
When you’re angry, you react aggressively or passive-aggressively instead of honestly. Anger management can teach you how to respond to uncomfortable situations without becoming so aggressive. By doing this, anger management can help individuals in recovery truly open up and accept the recovery process.
Anger Management Teaches Effective Relaxation Techniques
If you aren’t careful, anger can cause you to react in ways that you may later regret. Anger management can help you avoid that kind of behavior by teaching you to relax when you begin to feel irritated and hostile. Despite what you might think, you have the ability to remain calm and peaceful when you feel anger rising within you. Mindfulness and the following relaxation techniques can help you better manage your temper:
- Deep breathing
- Progressive relaxation
- Laughter therapy
- Mindfulness meditation
- Listening to soothing music
Being able to relax when you feel a surge of anger can help you avoid irrational behavior and harmful responses that can lead to negative consequences.
Anger Management Promotes Problem-Solving Techniques
Anger management can also teach you how to solve problems without turning to drugs or alcohol. Dealing with frustrating life situations can and will make you angry sometimes, but that doesn’t mean you need to drink or use drugs to cope. Knowing that you can solve problems without turning to addictive substances can make you feel empowered and boost your self-esteem. As you gain control over your anger, you’ll also realize that you can change other aspects of your life as well, which can help motivate you to continue recovering and start pursuing positive life changes.
Start Regaining Control Of Your Life Today
Anger is a powerful emotion that can easily impede your recovery journey. Luckily, one-on-one and group counseling programs can help you deal with anger and substance abuse issues. We can help you:
- Manage your emotions
- Develop healthy coping skills
- Channel your anger into productive activities
- Better understand yourself
- Ease tension without aggression
Make the decision to invest in yourself. Contact a member of our team today if you’re ready to start regaining control of your life.