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Group therapy meeting discussing anger management for addiction recovery at Los Angeles Drug Rehab

How does anger management help with recovery from substance abuse?

Anger often seems like an emotion most would like to avoid, but it is a completely natural response to life’s triggers. However, undirected anger can be dangerous, which is why it’s important to learn anger management skills to help with long term recovery. Often anger is the result of other underlying causes or emotions, such as pain or fear. When these emotions become too intense to handle, they can cause a person to lash out. Anger can act as an outlet for the tension that builds up with pain or fear. Without control or anger management, it can have debilitating effects on a person or those around them.

When anger goes unmanaged it can cause a person to lash out physically or verbally to those around them creating a toxic environment. If a person with unmanaged anger does not understand why they are lashing out they could turn to substances to lessen the anger. However, unresolved anger will only continue to get worse and under the influence of substances, there is far less chance of controlling it. This leads to a cycle of anger and substance abuse until addiction eventually occurs.

Whether anger is the result of pain, trauma, or disrespected boundaries, learning how to manage it healthily may be the only way individuals can come to terms with their addiction. Even if a client enters a treatment center, receives a detox, and comes out sober if they do not learn how to manage their anger they will only fall back into the cycle of addiction.

While in a treatment center, clients can speak with therapists regarding skills they need to improve upon. Here clients can work to create a plan that will help them learn effective methods of managing their anger. There is a lot of work that goes into anger management but learning to do so can help end vicious cycles of addiction and positively influence the lives of themselves and those around them.

Anger and the Home Life

While anger can be the result of pain, trauma, or other factors there is the possibility anger is the result of the environment in which a person grew up. Children who grow up in homes where anger and aggressive behavior occurs regularly are more likely to act similarly or rely on substance abuse on their own. When children see this behavior, they can adopt it as their means of coping with life or see it as a normal response to life’s complications. If a child is lucky enough to not take on these traits, they still risk being traumatized from it. This trauma can lead many children to have the following symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anger or aggression
  • Bullying behavior
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Poor school performance
  • Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can be the result of trauma or simply seen as normal behavior for a child growing up in this sort of environment. When it comes time to unlearn these traits or methods of coping it can be very difficult to change how the home life has influenced a person’s childhood.

Still, aggression and addiction are seen together far too commonly. Many acts of domestic violence involve drugs and alcohol. In many cases, the use of substances and other chemicals alter a person’s ability to control themselves which leads to out-of-control behavior. For many, the only way to break this behavior is through anger management training.

The Cycle of Addiction and Anger

Anger can be the reason a person struggles to connect with others in life. It can also be the reason people struggle with mental health or unresolved trauma. These feelings can cause unexplained anger. When anger becomes too much to manage in life it can seem easy to turn to substances to cope, more commonly alcohol. Alcohol is known to be linked to anger and aggressive behaviors far more than other chemicals, according to the World Health Organization.

However, the use of alcohol can have the opposite effect and increase feelings of anger. Therefore a person might seek out more substance or drink heavier to counteract the intense feelings.

As a result of this vicious cycle of alcohol abuse and anger, relationships can become damaged beyond repair. This would only cause the user to fall deeper into mental and emotional complications such as depression, anxiety, or hopelessness. This of course feeds further addiction.

Healthy Ways of Anger Management

In this article, we have discussed how damaging anger can be. Anger is a useful emotion, but poorly managed anger is destructive. On the other hand, completely ignoring anger issues can leave a person feeling blocked as though something is preventing them from thriving but they can’t figure out what. This frustration can cause a person to react in a regretful way impacting relationships, home life, and potentially work life. A person needs to learn how to manage anger in a healthy manner. Doing so will not only save relationships but also help on the path to managing substance abuse.

In a treatment center, clients can expect to partake in therapies aimed to help resolve conflict and anger in daily life. These sessions will give clients the tools to help combat daily triggers and find means of coping with them that are healthier than substances. Often they will be encouraged to release anger with assertive communication or expressing their thoughts in a manner without harming others. Many professionals also encourage humor to not only ease the tension but act as a healthier outlet for frustrations.

Outside of talking to a professional, clients may find that they will be encouraged to keep a journal to vent frustration. The act of writing letters or frustrations on paper can give them a safe outlet to blow off steam without hurting themselves or others. Furthermore, meditation, picking up new hobbies, exercising, and positive distractions can all help motivate a person to vent anger in a healthy manner.

Overall, clients in a treatment center should expect to face their anger head-on rather than avoid it. From there they will work to use their new tools to manage and cope with it until it becomes natural to respond without doing harm.

Benefits of Proper Anger Management

First and foremost, once a person learns how to properly manage anger, they can finally tackle their addiction. Without the influence of angry emotions feeding an addiction, they can use that motivation to get to the root of their addiction. This could also mean resolving trauma that caused anger.

After that, once anger has found a healthy outlet, individuals might find that they flourish in other aspects of life. Relationships can be repaired, work and home life performances improve, and any potential health complications can be work on being resolved. All of this would eventually lead to a healthier and happier person with far more opportunities to thrive. Generally, healthy and happier people do not feel the need to abuse substances. 

Once anger has found a healthy outlet a person might find out new things about themselves. If exercise is utilized as a healthy coping mechanism, a person could find they enjoy fitness and make a healthy focus of their life. This personal growth will allow a person to see their potential in life, raise their self-worth and further encourage sobriety. 

Anger Management and Recovery

Anger’s destruction has been mentioned several times, but the benefit of properly managed anger has yet to be touched upon. Anger can act as a protective motivation for a person. If a person feels as though they are not being taken seriously or treated well that anger could push them to defend themselves, in a healthy way that is. This could be simply being assertive with recovery boundaries. Or finding the means to cut out social circles that will only harm one’s sobriety.

Anger can be justified when used productively. After learning these skills in a rehabilitation center, a person still needs to be careful that they do not fall back into a relapse of unmanaged anger. For some, the rush experienced while having an angry episode can be just as addicting as using substances. If a person finds they miss that “high” and are chasing it, they may have to re-evaluate their management skills. Seeking further treatment for anger management from a treatment center may be just what an individual needs to prevent a relapse of substance abuse.

Clients should expect to learn these skills from rehabilitation centers. Along with anger management skills, they should take care to form bonds that can benefit their road to recovery long after leaving a center. Many people use this type of support system to help check-in when they feel as though they might get “out of control” again.

Above all, anger management in a healthy manner is important for any person who does or does not suffer from addiction. It can benefit relationships, work performance, home life, mental and physical health. Individuals who feel as though they need help managing their anger do not have to have a substance abuse problem before seeking help. It is completely possible to live a fulfilling life without the oppression of unmanaged anger. 

Anger Management Training at NuView Treatment Center

NuView Treatment Center, a rehab in West Los Angeles, provides individuals and other members of the community with a wide variety of outpatient treatment programs. Our treatment programs help individuals escape from the vicious cycle of drug or alcohol dependence. Our modern facility, highly trained physicians and masters-level clinicians, and evidence-based treatment modalities can help anyone, regardless of the severity of their substance use disorder.

Our rehab includes every level of care, including:

  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs)
  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs)
  • Outpatient programs (OPs)
  • Aftercare planning

At NuView Treatment Center, we believe in approaching addiction treatment on a whole-person basis. Compassion is emphasized above all. We never utilize a one-size-fits-all approach to addiction treatment. Rather, we understand that all of our clients are individuals with unique stories, underlying issues, and specific needs. Our team and staff members design individualized treatment plans for every client who walks into our facility so that they can develop the coping tools they need to stay sober and live lives that are joyful, meaningful, and drug and alcohol-free.

If you or someone you care about is suffering from a drug or alcohol problem, help is available. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.

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