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Anger Management in Addiction Recovery

Anger management is a key component to successful, long term recovery. In this article, we address different ways you can manage your anger in recovery.  

Anger can be a double-edged sword. Anger is an emotion that may precipitate your drug or alcohol use. You may abuse these substances as a way to temper the effects of this anger and other stressful situations by self-medicating. As substance abuse wreaks havoc on your life, you may become angry at yourself and feel responsible for the damage it’s incurring.

Unfortunately for some, anger doesn’t always go away when a person stops using drugs or alcohol. Some may have struggled with this emotion for a large part of their life. Even though they are in recovery, many people still contend with the emotional impact of substance abuse. 

When entering recovery, this may be the first time that an emotion like anger is actually dealt with in a healthy way. Anger is not a harmless emotion. Just as it may have driven a person to drink in the first place, it can push a person to the point that it could jeopardize their recovery. In worse case scenarios anger can significantly impair judgement, which can lead to relapse. Anger can also be one of the most divisive and destructive forces on the planet if not managed properly. It can destroy relationships, isolate us from our loved ones and even cause physical illness in our bodies. 

You may not think you are an angry person. Anger may show up as other emotions including bitterness, resentment or just mild frustration. Regardless of how anger shows up, it’s important to address it before it gets out of control. Common triggers for anger include injustice, feeling disrespected, violation of your personal space, insults, relationship disputes, feeling lack of control, and disappointment. 

Here are our suggestions for managing anger appropriately:

Have a repetitive focus. Counting is a classic approach that works well for many people. You don’t have to stop counting at ten. You can count as long as you feel yourself relaxing and the anger subsiding a bit. If counting doesn’t work for you, try using a mantra you can repeat such as “be calm”, “I am ok”, “slow down”, or any phrase you need to repeat over and over until you feel yourself relax. 

Find ways to relax when you feel anger rising. There are relaxation practices that can help release the tension of anger. Use relaxation methods to curb both the physical and emotional effects of anger. Relaxation practices include breathing exercises, positive visualization, stretching, yoga, taking a warm bath or shower, birdwatching, gardening, or listening to relaxing music. Regularly practicing mindfulness can also help you reduce anger outbursts. Check out our recent article on Mindfulness in Recovery with additional mindfulness tips.

Distract yourself with something positive. Try to turn your thoughts away from what is currently triggering your anger. Find an activity that brings you joy such as reading a good book, listening to positive music, calling a friend, playing a game or sports, or anything else that is a positive distraction. 

Ask for support from a licensed therapist. Anger can stem from unresolved trauma or early childhood issues. When digging into your deeper thought patterns surrounding anger, it’s important to seek the help of a professional. Licensed therapists are trained in managing anger and other emotions effectively. Therapists can provide solutions such as problem solving skills and impulse control when it comes to managing your anger. We have licensed therapists on staff at Collective Recovery. Click here for your free benefits review. 

We hope this article helped you with your own personal anger management. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, click here for your free benefits review, or call us at1-866-UTAH-HOPE.