Unmanaged Anger and Drug Relapse

I can attest that in early recovery, anger can get a little out of control. Being newly sober, little things can cause extreme agitation or even outbursts. Learning to have patience without drugs or alcohol can sometimes seem impossible. In fact, anger is one of the most common causes of drug relapse. This is why it is so important to learn healthy coping skills to avoid rash decisions in recovery.

For addicts and alcoholics, many emotions have been avoided or buried with substance abuse. Instead of facing emotion, we turn to a quick fix to feel better. Once in recovery, that quick fix is gone and something else must take its place. This means facing unwanted and painful emotions and working through them, which I know sounds awful, but to live a healthy life, have meaningful relationships, and avoid drug relapse, it is necessary. Once drugs and alcohol are gone, all of the pent up emotions come bubbling up to the surface, and at some point might boil over.

Anger is one of the most destructive emotions for an addict or alcoholic. Anger has the ability to blind a person and cause them to act out in ways that don’t seem rational. Like any emotion, anger can be bottled up and build pressure over time. Maybe even months into recovery, something finally causes the bottle to explode. Bottled up anger can cause you to take it out on somebody else or even yourself. When in a fit of rage or extreme anger, it can be easy to give up and turn to drugs or alcohol for relief. 

Emotions from the past can also manifest into anger once sober. An event that may have caused sadness may turn into resentment as you have time to recall the event with a sober mind. It is important to not focus on the past in recovery and focus rather focus on a better future or how to forgive what happened. Sometimes making an amends or directly confronting what has made you angry can help you move forward. After all, anything should be done to prevent drug relapse.

Ways To Control Anger

When people think of managing anger they think of anger management classes and might get turned off. Though classes may help, it often is probably unnecessary. Anger management classes are typically for people with extreme anger issues that cannot be controlled otherwise. That being said, you can still be greatly damaged by anger even if you don’t have a legitimate anger disorder.

For addicts and alcoholics, daily routines and healthy coping mechanisms are essential for recovery. Anger can be kept at a minimum and drug relapse can be prevented if it is replaced with something healthy. These are some tips to help control uncomfortable emotions:

  • Support Network or Fellowships

Support networks are essential for recovery. Addicts and alcoholics often have spent a lot of time isolating. Isolation allows you to change moods without anyone knowing something is wrong. In a fellowship like AA, or something similar, you can have a group of friends that see you often. If you start to act different your friends can ask what is wrong and support you in bad times. These friends can share their own experiences and help you move past whatever is wrong. If you feel you are at risk of drug relapse, a support network can be there for you to call and get help. Going to a fellowship meeting can also help you change gears.

woman meditating

  • Meditation/Yoga

For me, meditation is crucial to keep my sanity. Meditation can not only help anger, but also is proven to treat depression, anxiety, and concentration problems. Meditation and yoga promote living in the present moment and being calm, which is essential for controlling anger. Not to mention, you might even find meditation to help greatly with sleep.

  • Therapy

Talk therapy can significantly help difficult emotions. It helps teach you to not bottle up feelings, but rather get them out and process them. Bottling emotions is the #1 cause of drug relapse. Even if it is for a short period, talk therapy can help someone realize the benefit and relief experienced from talking about their feelings.

  • Walks and Exercise

Exercising is one of the best ways to get out stress and anger. Even if it is a short jog or giving a few blows to a punching bag, physical activities promote “feel-good” neurons in the brain. Working out can help treat depression, anger, anxiety, and concentration problems.

  • Hobbies, like Art

Finding a favorite hobby can not only treat anger but promote a positive recovery and prevent drug relapse. Finding passion is one of the most important parts of staying sober. When I get upset I find peace in art. I will either make music, draw, or paint. Even if you don’t think you are “good” at something, doesn’t mean you should try it out or make it a normal activity.

Seeking Treatment for Alcoholism and Addiction

If you or a loved one has a problem with alcoholism or addiction and want to experience recovery in a thriving community with lots of people just like you, then call the professionals at Stout Street today at 866-722-7040. Our trained staff is standing by to take your call and help you in any way we can. We know how difficult of a decision this can be and we know what it takes to ensure you find your own personal path in recovery.  You no longer have to do it alone, so give us a call today and find the happy and sober life you’ve always dreamed of.