Anger is often the root of an addict’s problem. Unfortunately, substance abusers, drug addicts and alcoholics do not identify their anger as connected to their addiction. This is problematic as since they do not recognise anger as the psychological origin of their addiction they are not able to seek help for this particular aspect of their disorder.
Anger is the emotional anguish we experience when we feel unfulfilled. Anger is often the emotional predecessor of the misuse of cocaine and alcohol. To avoid this anguish and suffering and to relieve themselves of the pain they are feeling they abuse substances until they are emotionally numb. Unfortunately, this is not expressing their anger but suppressing it. People who suppress their anger often end up exploding and/ or experiencing depression.
Suppressed anger is the anger that is swept under the carpet or pushed down to deal with another day. This suppression of anger means that aside from the addiction, the addict now has another problem to be diagnosed, depression. Many clinical studies have used anger management as a successful intervention for reducing or preventing a relapse of the substance abuse.
This is because most frequently anger is a relapse trigger. This is due to the suppression of anger leading the individual to explode, leaving the addict in their red mist, thinking irrationally, and leaving them vulnerable to a relapse and return to substance abuse. During this time it is frequently reported that individuals decide that they want to punish other people or that they do not care about their own wellbeing. They very quickly forget their efforts to construct an addiction-free lifestyle. But returning to the substance of choice will always be regretted.
The relapse process is perhaps the most essential. As the individual can get tied up in the lack of process that they have made, they have forgotten that this is not a quick fix and so their frustrations build. They are no longer satisfied or fulfilled with their recovery and have the positive memories of the substance abuse. This is the most crucial stage an addict will have to overcome.
It is imperative that individuals in recovery invest in ways to manage their anger. It should never be able to fester in the mind of the individual in recovery as it can derail them. Try these suggestions to prevent relapse.
- Exercise regularly to get rid of pent up frustrations.
- Go for a long walk to clear your head, this can help put things in perspective.
- Drawing in long deep breaths can help calm you down.
- Getting creative can help you express yourself and put your mind at ease for a while; it will distract you from your problems and help you relax.
- To help you manage your emotions try mindfulness meditation.
- To help you with understanding and controlling your anger go to
Written by Hannah Johnson