No matter what substance you’re addicted to or what led you to it, odds are that anger played some role. Maybe you were fighting constantly with your spouse, and you sought solace in drugs or alcohol. Maybe you were angry at your boss for cutting your hours or passing you over for a promotion, or at a coworker for getting that promotion. If you were arrested for a crime, drug-related or not, you might have directed your anger at law enforcement. Any one of these things can lead someone to self-medicate. Or it could be that you already had a substance abuse problem, and the anger drove you to consume more and more.
Anger can also be a trigger for relapse. The problems that you had before treatment aren’t going to magically disappear. There are some situations you can avoid, but others you’ll have to learn how to face. For example, if you fought with a loved one about slacking off on your responsibilities, or if you broke their trust by cheating or stealing, it might take a while for the anger on their end to dissipate. It would be all too easy to slip back into a defensive stance and let the anger consume you again. Taking your anger out on someone else is only going to lead to broken relationships and the loss of support you need during your recovery.
Keeping anger locked inside yourself can be just as unhealthy as lashing out. Anger can lead to anxiety and depression, and to physical problems like headaches, insomnia, digestion problems, high blood pressure, and even heart attack and stroke.
Ask yourself who you’re really mad at, and why. It’s natural to get angry if you feel like someone is attacking you, but they are only telling the truth and forcing you to own up to the things you’ve done, you’re going to have to take responsibility and let it go. Acknowledge that you hurt people with your actions and now it’s time to make up for it. It could also be that your anger is really fear or guilt. If you don’t learn how to process your emotions, it’s easy to blame everyone and everything else for your problems and react with anger. If you look inside yourself, you might realize that you’re just embarrassed or ashamed but don’t want to admit it. Maybe what you’re really feeling is pain, from losses you’ve suffered or opportunities that you won’t get back.
It is possible to express your anger in healthy ways. Figure out the real cause of your anger and develop strategies to deal with it. Learn to walk away if an argument is getting too heated. Do something physical like go for a run to burn off the energy and agitation. Long term, you might consider anger management therapy, or learn ways to relax like yoga, meditation, or journaling.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504.