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Anger Management and Addiction Treatment

Resurgence Behavioral Health Anger Management and Addiction Treatment

Addressing Difficult Emotions Addiction Treatment

Anger can come for several reasons, such as underlying trauma or boundaries being crossed. It is processed in three ways: open aggression, passive aggression, and assertive anger. Assertive anger is the healthiest form, where the person asserts themselves without using screaming and other dangerous tactics to get to the resolution. Passive aggression is widespread and occurs when a person finds subtle ways to show their anger which is seen as passive. This can be very frustrating for others because the message is not clear. The most dangerous is open aggression and involves the individual becoming verbally and physically abusive. Anger is a natural emotion but can become a problem when expressed or not handled correctly. Unhealthy coping mechanisms can include using drugs or alcohol. Poor anger management can lead to several negative consequences, especially when addiction is involved.

Drugs and alcohol can hinder people’s ability to express their anger in healthy ways. Learning healthy ways to handle anger is critical for addiction treatment rooted in poor anger management. Rage and outbursts are not the only ways anger is expressed in an unhealthy way. Repressing anger and holding it in can be detrimental as well. Repression can cause physical symptoms such as muscle tension, head, neck, and back pain, and resentment.

Dealing with difficult emotions, including anger, can be very difficult, so many turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with them. Instead of facing these feelings, substance abuse provides an escape and a form of self-medication. Even though these substances can temporarily relieve these emotions, it does not help to truly resolve the underlying issue to help the person overcome the problematic feeling. Often, drugs and alcohol will worsen a person’s experience and intensify negative emotions.

The emotional aspect of recovery is one of its most complex parts. Physically abstaining from using substances long-term can be difficult if the underlying issues are not dealt with. Without the numbing effect of substances, an addict can quickly become overwhelmed by what surfaces. Negative feelings from withdrawal symptoms or feelings that drove the addiction in the first place come up, and they do not know how to manage in a healthy way. Coping with emotions in a healthy way is vital for a successful recovery.

Emotions can trigger relapses, so learning to manage them is essential. Understanding which emotions, the individual associates with substance abuse, can better prepare them for potential drawbacks in recovery. The most common emotions experienced with substances abuse are depression, anxiety, fear, anger, paranoia, guilt, loneliness, disappointment, resentment, boredom, or a combination of two or more of these.

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The Relationship Between Addiction and Anger

It is very common for addiction and anger to coexist and feed one another. For example, someone abusing alcohol may react with excessive anger when they wouldn’t otherwise if they were not under the influence. On the other hand, someone may abuse alcohol to soothe unresolved anger. Unfortunately, someone struggling with drug or alcohol abuse may struggle more than the average person to cope with anger.

Individuals may develop a cycle of anger and substance abuse easily. Anger can also cause temporary mental and emotional conditions like anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and nervous breakdowns. A person may then abuse substances to cope with these feelings, creating a cycle of substance abuse.

Anger can also be a side effect of the substances themselves, causing irritability and mood swings. Withdrawal symptoms can also include these emotions. Those in recovery can also develop anger about being in treatment, past actions, and behaviors, or realizing they can no longer use drugs or alcohol.

Anger itself can also be addicting. Many hormones and chemicals are released with rage, and some people get a “high” from it, just like adrenaline junkies. Once these chemicals wear off, the person is left feeling anxious or depressed. They can then look for other substances to help replace those euphoric feelings.

Learning Healthy Coping Skills in Addiction Treatment

Many in addiction recovery will experience several levels and states of emotions. They must learn how to cope with difficult emotions without the help of drugs or alcohol. It is essential to understand these feelings are normal and healthy ways to manage them can be learned.

Addiction treatment focuses on finding healthy outlets for anger and other emotions, which will help establish positive behaviors and a new thought process moving forward. Some positive outlets can include creative expression, spending time with loved ones, physical exercise, and much more.

The first step in managing anger is recognizing the triggers for anger, such as people or situations. Therapists can ask clients to write down a list of things that trigger anger, including specific people or something that comes up in group therapy. Some anger triggers often reported are perfectionism, exhaustion, criticism, feeling unloved, being mistreated, and being taken advantage of.

Understanding when anger is causing physical symptoms like heart racing, and shortness of breath can help individuals stop these responses by focusing on breathing, taking a break from the situation, or taking a walk.

Addiction Treatment that
Just Works

Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.

Managing Anger Without Drugs or Alcohol

Managing anger does not mean never getting angry, but rather it is about recognizing, coping, and expressing your anger in healthy and productive ways. This is a skill that everyone can learn, and research shows that changing the way you think and behave with cognitive behavioral therapy is the most effective way to manage anger. Thoughts and behaviors can either fuel or reduce emotions.

Having an anger management control plan is the best way to manage anger. Here are some strategies to include in an anger management plan:

  • Identify Triggers: While blame should not be placed on other people or outside circumstances for going into a rage, understanding triggers can help recognize that the emotion is about to come up.
  • Recognize Warning Signs: Warning signs can include physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat, heat in the face, or clenched fists. These are signs that immediate action is required to prevent anger from escalating.
  • Step Away: Trying to win an argument in an unhealthy situation will only fuel anger. Taking a break to calm down can help resolve a conflict. It can help the other person know that there is an intention to continue the discussion later when emotions are calmer.
  • Talk to a Friend: A friend can help talk through issues and express feelings verbally. They can also help come to a solution or see a different view of things.
  • Exercise: Anger causes a rush of energy, and burning off that excess tension can help manage anger. It also helps to clear the mind to create a clearer perspective. Regular exercise is also helpful to reduce stress in general, which can help improve frustration tolerance.
  • Manage Your Thoughts: Reframing thoughts away from what makes you angry can also be calming. For example, having a mantra to repeat to drown out thoughts like “I’m Ok. This will pass”.
  • Think About Something Else: Going over and over the same upsetting situation will only fuel anger. Doing something that requires focus can help shift thoughts away from what is causing the anger long enough to calm the body and brain.
  • Focus on Relaxation: There are several different relaxation exercises, including breathing exercises, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation. These exercises take practice and may not be effective the first few times.
  • Explore those Feelings: Sometimes, there are other, more painful emotions that anger is just masking, such as sadness, disappointment, and embarrassment. Being honest about the feelings rather than lashing out can help resolve the issue rather than responding with anger, which may push people away.
  • Create a “Calm Down” Kit: Objects that help engage the senses can refocus the anger away and calm you down. For example, a scented candle, a calming song, a picture of something that causes happiness, or eating a piece of candy.
  • Journaling: Writing down and expressing anger through writing can be very therapeutic. Some even choose to burn the piece of paper to help let go of what triggered that emotion.

Addiction Treatment Centers That Teach Anger Management

Finding a recovery center that treats co-occurring disorders, a combination of addiction and another mental health disorder, is essential for those with anger management issues. Cognitive-behavioral intervention is one form of therapy that can help with anger management.

At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we help our clients with individualized treatment plans and offer mental health and addiction treatment to help those with co-occurring disorders. By treating the root of the substance abuse disorder, our clients have a higher chance for long-term recovery. If you or someone you love suffers from anger management issues and addiction, please give us a call at (855) 458-0050 today, and one of our addiction specialists can help you get started on the road to recovery.

Addiction Treatment that
Just Works

Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.

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Alexa Iocco

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