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Addiction
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Dealing with Anger and Addiction

Anger along with an addiction to a substance, such as alcohol, cocaine or heroin, can be a nightmarish combination.

Many addicts have problems dealing with anger and expressing it in appropriate ways. Feelings of anger can be linked to relapsing because often that is the only way an addict knows how to deal with anger – by using their drug of choice to mask their feelings. A person who is unable to express their anger in a healthy way will resort to using more drugs or alcohol as a method of coping with these strong feelings, leaving them in an endless destructive cycle. If you want to achieve abstinence, it’s crucial that you learn how to manage your anger in a positive way.

Reasons Addicts Can’t Manage Their Anger Appropriately

  1. Addicts may deny feelings of anger about a traumatic incident, such as child sexual abuse, rape or the death of a loved one. They ignore their feelings and build resentment and anger without realizing it.
  2. An addiction prevents the person from expressing their anger in a healthy way.
  3. Addicts may have learned unhealthy ways to express anger from their parents or other relatives when they were younger.
  4. Addicts may be angry at themselves but they blame people around them for their problems.

Ways That Substance Abuse Impacts Anger

A person who turns to substance abuse to cope with life’s problems has usually not been taught how to manage their anger. Instead they demonstrate anger through a variety of negative ways, such as:

  1. Becoming overly aggressive when angry. Punching, kicking, hitting or pushing others to get out angry feelings.
  2. Screaming threats of violence.
  3. Emotional blackmail to punish another person. Ignoring a loved one for long periods of time without expressing why they are angry.
  4. Plotting ways to get revenge from someone they feel has wronged them. They may have fantasies of violent ways to teach that person a lesson.
  5. Blocking angry feelings and avoiding their source of anger. They numb themselves so they can’t confront the issue that’s bothering them.

Appropriate Ways to Deal With Anger

The goal is to handle your angry feelings without resorting to illegal drugs or a bottle of alcohol. There are a few good ways to manage anger that can improve your relationships rather than damage them.

  • Take deep breaths to calm down and evaluate the situation. Try to see the other person’s point of view.
  • Learn to express anger productively, using non-defensive assertive statements of communication.
  • Walk away from an argument when things get heated. This allows you a cooling-off period so you are able to go back to the situation later in a calm and rational manner.
  • Channel your anger physically by running, punching a pillow or punching a bag at the gym.
  • Express your anger in a creative way, such as by writing in a journal or painting. Drawing, painting and journaling are good ways to express your emotions.
  • Avoid toxic situations or people that make you angry because it can lead you to relapse.

An addiction counselor in a professional rehab program can help you determine the reasons why you are angry. They can thoroughly work with you and evaluate if you are handling your anger properly.

If you tend to express your anger in an unhealthy way, your counselor can help you find positive ways to deal with life’s challenges.