Coping With Anger in Addiction Recovery

There are some things in life we just can’t avoid—death, taxes, and anger. Anger is a common emotion we all experience in life, and it can affect you, those around you, and even society as a whole. Episodes of anger can be passive or assertive. Each episode will produce adrenaline which can create lasting adverse effects whenever you lose your temper, thus causing more anxiety, stress, and depression.

Anger is also strongly tied with relapse. Whether you bottle anger up or lash out, you will encounter numerous roadblocks on your road to recovery. That bottled-up anger could lead to a bottle of your favorite substance you used if you are not careful. Furthermore, without learning to process anger constructively, you limit yourself from moving forward in your recovery. Let’s look at some examples of anger, why you might be experiencing anger, and how to manage the anger so you can move forward in your recovery.

Anger Stems From Fear and Pain

Anger is a normal human response, but it can be reshaped and misdirected, causing you and those around you fear and pain. Fear and pain are often the roots of problematic anger and can manifest as physical discomfort, psychological distress, or both. For example, you might fear someone, in particular, losing face, feeling embarrassed, or being abandoned.

In your recovery, your fear and pain could stem from fearing relapse or encountering people that you have hurt in the past or that have hurt you. Feeling shame and embarrassment from your past could manifest in episodes of anger, and working on ways to help you understand the root cause is the first step to constructively addressing that anger. If you need help, seek professional guidance from a therapist or mentor and practice mindfulness or meditation at home.

Psychological Response to Anger

When you become angry, your body has a physical response, releasing a rush of hormones called catecholamines and producing bursts of energy. In addition to this, your adrenocortical system becomes aroused, resulting in a feeling of being on edge. The feeling of being on edge can last for hours or days after an episode of anger. Further, acting on anger increases blood pressure and heart rate resulting in a surge of adrenaline.

Understand that repressing these feelings of anger is not the same as coping effectively with it. Repression can result in physical symptoms, such as muscle tension, head, neck, and back pain. Learning how to respond to bouts of anger helps you control and manage anger without repressing it.

Recognizing and Understanding Your Anger

Learning to manage your anger effectively includes learning how to recognize the people and situations that trigger your response. You can start by writing out a list of things that trigger your anger, such as family situations, deadlines at work, or conflicts with friends or co-workers. Identifying your triggers is vital to help you understand your anger. In addition, understanding which kind of anger you experience will also help you when learning and applying coping techniques to overcome your anger. Types of anger you might encounter include:

  • Passive aggression: When you do not like to admit that you feel angry because you don’t like confrontation, this is called passive aggression. You might become silent when you feel angry, skulk, or procrastinate and act as if everything is okay. Such a response comes from the need to be in control.
  • Open Aggression: If you lash out in anger and become physically or verbally aggressive, this is called open aggression. It can also include bullying, fighting, accusing, and arguing using sarcasm and criticism. Such aggression also comes from the need to be in control.

Managing Anger

Understanding what triggers you and how you react helps you spot the signs of oncoming anger. Knowing this can help you understand when anger is causing you physical symptoms like a racing heart and can help you interrupt these feelings of a “fight or flight” response. You can then work to reprocess your feelings by practicing breathwork or taking a 10-minute walk to get away from the situation before going back to confront it. Other ways to manage your anger are:

  • Exercise
  • Positive self-talk
  • Writing in a journal
  • Distraction through hobbies
  • Seeking help from friends, family, peers, and professionals

Assertive Anger

Assertive anger does not stress being angry; instead, it is a healthier way to communicate how you feel. The techniques you develop to cope with your anger help strengthen your patience and resiliency to overcome your initial response and reprocess those feelings more constructively. In addition, becoming assertive with your anger helps you become confident with talking and listening when dealing with a situation.

Assertive anger means thinking before you speak and being confident with expressing how you feel. It will not only help you express what you need to say, but it also helps you become flexible from seeing things from the other perspective. Being able to communicate how you feel in this way shows respect for the other you may be disagreeing with; it also shows that you respect your recovery to work through problems, which is very empowering. It also gains you respect from others when they see how you can process how you feel maturely and responsibly.

Addiction recovery and anger sometimes make fast friends, but this does not mean that you cannot overcome your anger. Interrupting the anger response after recognizing it can help you manage angry feelings before angry actions. If you are currently struggling to overcome your anger, then the time to seek help is now. At Choice House, we offer treatment and therapies that venture beyond the conventional approaches to ensure the best treatment to aid men on their road to recovery. Our process is not a one-size-fits-all; we utilize alternative therapies such as adventure therapy to help each patient see their inspiration and motivation in their everyday lives. If you need help or are concerned about a loved one, we provide 24/7 admissions and are always ready to provide support with any questions or concerns. Remember, your health and recovery should always come first. Find out more today by calling us at (720) 577-4422.

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