People who have used drugs and alcohol have long, difficult roads to face in recovery. When you compound substance abuse with an anger management problem, addiction is even more complicated to overcome. Whichever behavior led to the other, anger and addiction provoke each other in a destructive pattern. Each behavior needs to be clinically confronted in order to achieve success. For successful recovery, let’s first review the negative effects of anger and addiction.
Anger Management in Addiction Recovery
Substance abuse is often a comorbidity of anger, resentment and destructive behavior. For some, anger may be the trigger that leads to addiction. In other addiction cases, substance abuse is the precursor for anger issues.
When Anger Is the Trigger
In circumstances where anger is the preliminary obstacle, there are several situations in which a person’s rage can become so devastating that they attempt to desensitize themselves with drugs or alcohol. For example, problems with anger management often result in difficulties at work and home. The troubled person may turn to substances in order to cope with the painful results of their behavior more. Another example is when anger may also fester and build to the point where a person can’t see past it. In this circumstance, a person may take out their frustration by abusing drugs or alcohol.
When Substance Use is the Trigger
Chemical dependency often results in heightened emotions. For example, abusing cocaine typically brings about antagonistic and violent tendencies. A person becoming more dependent on alcohol or drugs may lead to an extreme life changing event like incarceration, divorce, job loss, eviction or poverty. One of these resulting factors may lead to deeply rooted anger problems, especially if more than one happens at the same time.
All of us have felt infuriated and annoyed in our lives. It isn’t something that one can avoid ever feeling and it is an extremely common emotion in recovery. What we’re talking about here is an endless anger that goes on for days and recurs consistently. This level of fury often accelerates to the point of violence, takes over a person’s psyche completely and becomes very dangerous.
Taking Control of Your Anger in Recovery
Addiction recovery is different for each individual. Learning to control your anger while in recovery is also different for each person. Whatever coping skills or combination of skills you have used in the past have not been successful. It’s time to try something else to break free of your destructive behaviors now that you’re clean and sober.
Exercising for Emotional Regulation
Exercise is great for your physical well-being and can be equally as positive for your mental health. There are some scientists, as well as mental health professionals, that deem fitness essential in managing anger. Exercise often provides a healthy physical outlet for you to let out your frustrations and has proven to be even more so effective for those who’ve exhibited violent tendencies.
It is essential to note if you have any physical limitations as a result of substance abuse before participating in or creating your own exercise routine. You’ll want to pace yourself to start, and yoga is a great way to begin. Using both meditation and exercise, yoga also has many levels of intensity and allows you to steadily add on to or adapt your routine. Schedule exercise into your weekly routine and allow for impromptu sessions when your emotions start to get the best of you.
Other exercises that help to manage anger are running and swimming. Going for a brief jog or swimming some laps are positive outlets for you to relieve stress and shake off what’s bothering you about your life now that you’re in recovery. You may feel tired afterwards, which is the goal – your heightened emotional state will have lessened significantly.
Meditation and Recovery
Meditation helps you to focus on the present and gives you permission to let go of what you’re worried about. There’s no room in your meditative state for past demons and future anxieties. The best part is meditation can be done anywhere at any time.
There are numerous online meditation guides and relaxation apps for anger that you can choose from. You can also develop your own meditative routine by clearing your mind, focusing your breathing, relaxing your body, and letting go. Your issues won’t have disappeared while you’re in your session, however, some perspective may come about in meditation. Focusing on your problems makes them seem more problematic than they actually are. Meditation is just one way that can help give you find a positive outlook for moving past them.
Artistic Expression and Recovery
Artistic expression is a great outlet for anger management as well. There are many ways to convey your feelings artistically, such as painting, sculpting, dancing, acting, singing, writing and photographing.
Artistic expression is personal, and you should pick whatever talent suits you best. Should you struggle which artistic direction to go in, here are some suggestions:
- When you feel bleak and unmotivated, step outside with a camera. Go for a walk and take pictures of anything you see that makes you smile.
- For times when you’re experiencing intense frustration, go sit in your favorite chair, take a deep breath and start writing. Jot down everything that happened that day that irritated you.
- Pick a song that best defines your appreciation for your loved ones that supported you and invite them over to perform it for them.
- Create a playlist of your favorite tunes, clear the living room furniture and dance like nobody’s watching.
Artistic expression can be a very freeing way to release your pent-up frustrations. Should this be something that’s new to you, don’t be hesitant – express yourself!
Help for Anger Management in Early Recovery
We understand that the first weeks after treatment are a vulnerable, emotional time. The team at Cumberland Heights is here to help you transition. If you have a history of anger management struggles, reach out to our admissions team. We are happy to connect you with helpful local resources and support groups in your area.