As humans, it is natural for us to experience anger. When you have healthy coping skills, anger can be healthy and helpful. However, unhealthy coping skills can lead to dangerous anger and substance abuse issues.
Managing anger can be exhausting and complex, especially when you struggle with both anger and substance abuse. Anger can lead to addiction and also be a symptom of addiction. For this reason, anger management in recovery is a crucial aspect of treatment.
What Are the Effects of Anger?
When you allow anger to spiral out of control, it can have severe consequences on:
- Physical health — high levels of frustration and anger increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, insomnia, high blood pressure, and weakened immunity
- Mental health — clouds your thinking, makes it more challenging to concentrate, leads to depression, and more
- Career — lashing out and losing your temper at work often leads to being unemployed
- Relationships — Anger can cut deep and cause people to lose trust and feel unsafe, especially children
What Is the Relationship Between Anger and Substance Abuse?
You may get angry for many reasons, including unhealed trauma or feeling like someone did you wrong. If you have poor anger management skills, your anger can often lead to destructive behaviors.
Some may not realize it, but substance abuse often co-occurs with anger problems. Anger may lead to substance abuse when:
- The rage is so intense you use drugs or alcohol to numb the pain
- Anger issues often cause trouble at home and work, so you may abuse substances to cope
- When life stressors continue to build, the frustration and anger may lead to drug and alcohol abuse
You may not typically let your anger get out of control. You may even consider yourself to have healthy anger management skills. However, when you misuse drugs or alcohol, your anger may become unmanageable. For example:
- Using cocaine often causes aggression and violent behaviors
- Anger and resentment are common symptoms of dependence and addiction
- Substance abuse can lead to problems, such as relationship trouble, financial stress, and DUIs, which often make people angrier about their circumstances
It is important to remember that being angry is not an issue. It becomes dangerous when you let the anger last for days and completely consume you. Furthermore, if you don’t develop healthy anger management in recovery, it can lead to relapse.
How Does Unhealthy Anger Management in Recovery Lead to Relapse?
Anger is a dangerous emotion that can cause destructive behaviors. For instance, if you turn to alcohol when you are angry, you can develop alcoholism and anger issues. This is why treating co-occurring anger and substance abuse issues in recovery is crucial.
Addiction is a personal journey. No one has walked the same path as you. As a result, anger and substance abuse treatment looks different for everyone.
Remember, you are rebuilding the life you want – a life free of anger and substance abuse. This means building a toolbox of coping and relapse prevention skills. While you may find one coping mechanism that works, most people have a combination of tools.
Negative Thought Patterns Trigger Anger and Substance Abuse
Many people believe external factors, such as other people and situations, cause their anger. However, your anger has less to do about what is happening and more about how you interpret it.
Common negative thought patterns that trigger anger and substance abuse include:
- Overgeneralizing — for example, “You always…” or “You never…”
- Rigid views — obsessing over how something must go can increase anger and substance abuse when things go differently than expected
- Jumping to conclusions — assuming a person’s intentions are to hurt you
- Blaming others — it’s always someone else’s fault; not taking responsibility for your action
Meditation for Alcoholism and Anger Issues
Anger is dangerous, especially in recovery. When life is good, you feel like sobriety was the right choice. However, when stressors like a fight with your spouse, a hard day at work, or financial issues build up, you may feel irritated that you gave up drugs or alcohol.
Meditation can help you stay in the present moment. Sobriety happens one day at a time; dwelling on your past won’t change it and obsessing over a sober future won’t make it true.
Meditation can be taking a few minutes in a quiet place to breathe deep and clear your mind. However, many people start with guided meditations. Meditating is simple – clear your mind, focus on your breathing, and relax your body.
While your struggles will still be there, meditating can bring perspective to your alcoholism and anger issues. Making meditation part of your self-care routine will also benefit you in other areas of your life.
Exercise Helps You Cope with Anger and Substance Abuse
We all know exercise keeps our bodies healthy, but it is also good for our mental health. This is especially true if you struggle with anger and substance abuse issues. Because exercise is a healthy outlet for frustrations, it is crucial in anger and substance abuse treatment.
Common exercises for anger management in recovery include:
- Lifting weights
- Hitting a punching bag
- Riding bikes
Artistic Expression Helps With Anger Management in Recovery
Creative expression is an excellent outlet for many things, including anger management in recovery. Anger and substance abuse often cause people to lose interest and passion in being creative. This is common because alcoholism and anger can make you miss the beauty around you.
Anger management in recovery can bring up some painful emotions. Expressing these emotions through art can reduce anger and substance abuse relapse.
Therapy for Anger Management in Recovery
Individual and group therapy is vital for anger management in recovery. Because anger and substance abuse often go hand in hand, your therapist should have training in both issues.
In therapy, you will discover the root of your anger. You will also learn how your anger and substance abuse have hurt the people you love.
It is essential to include your loved ones in a few therapy sessions. This helps you understand how your alcoholism and anger issues affect them. Furthermore, a therapist can help resolve issues and rebuild relationships.
Humor Improves Anger Management in Recovery
When you feel the frustration and anger building, lighten the mood with some humor and playfulness. This can help you explain yourself without hurting the other person’s feelings.
However, be careful to laugh with the person and not at the person. Do not be sarcastic or mean-spirited. You can always start by making gentle fun of yourself. When you choose humor, it reduces tension, anger, and potential conflict.
What Are Your Anger Warning Signs?
You may think your anger explodes without warning. However, there are physical warning signs. Anger management in recovery helps you become aware of these signs and gets your anger in check before it gets out of control.
Common signs of feeling angry include:
- Knots in your stomach
- Clenching your jaw and/or hands
- Feeling flushed or clammy
- Rapid breathing
- Pounding heartbeat
- “Seeing red”
- Trouble concentrating
- Tense shoulders
There is no excuse for losing your temper. Learning your triggers, recognizing the warning signs, and understanding how certain events affect you can help keep your anger and substance abuse in check.
Keep Your Anger in Check
If you feel yourself getting angry, stop and think about the following:
- How important is this in the big scheme of things?
- Is it worth being angry over?
- Is it worth ruining my whole day over?
- Is my response appropriate?
- Can I do anything about this situation?
- Is it worth my time?
What Are Ways to Cool Down Quickly?
Anger management in recovery helps you recognize the warning signs and anticipate your triggers. As a result, you can cool down before your anger gets out of control.
Quick ways to cool down include:
- Take deep breaths — breathing deep from the abdomen allows your lungs to fill up, which counteracts rising tension
- Take a short walk — physical activity releases the negative energy
- Stretching and massage — rolling your shoulders and massaging your scalp and neck
- Count to 10 slowly — counting allows your rational self to gain control of your emotions
- Use your senses — sight, smell, touch, sound, and taste can quickly relieve stress and anger
Find Help for Anger and Substance Abuse at North Jersey Recovery
If you struggle with anger and substance abuse, it can be challenging to regain control of your life. By reaching out for help, your alcoholism and anger issues will no longer control you. At North Jersey Recovery, our professionals genuinely understand your struggles. Contact us today and find out how we can help you.