Emotions play an important role in the recovery process for individuals who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. One of the strongest emotions that occurs during one’s road to sobriety is anger. Anger is a natural emotion people experience when they go through a frustrating situation, and it’s no different for individuals who are overcoming an alcohol or drug addiction. But when anger is not properly managed and becomes compulsive, volatile, and dangerous, then it’s not far from transforming into an addiction as well.
Without managing anger and reducing anger addiction, those who are recovering from substance addiction can face several risks, including committing crimes, destroying personal relationships, becoming violent, and even relapsing. Here’s how anger addiction impacts that journey to sobriety (and ways to overcome it):
Anger Feeds the Reward System
Just as drugs and alcohol feed the brain’s reward system, anger can do the same. However, the issue with this is that anger trumps rationale and morality . Since anger can trigger dopamine—the brain’s reward receptors–anger addiction is similar to the rush individuals get from substance abuse.
Anger Boosts Ego
It’s not uncommon for individuals who are on their sobriety journey to experience moments of weakness. Even if they do not fall back into alcohol or drug abuse, individuals’ recovery from drug and alcohol addiction often have insecurities. Latching onto anger is a way for individuals who are on their sobriety journey to boost their egos and confidence. Anger is also an emotional avoidance tactic. Rather than feeling hurt or insecure, the individual uses emotion to avoid depressive feelings .
Anger Addiction Requires Management
Subsiding anger addiction during sobriety requires taking effective steps to manage anger. There are several actions individuals with anger addiction can take to reduce volatile behavior and emotions associated with their anger addiction, including:
- Exercise. Doing physical exercise helps to reduce anger. There are several types of exercises individuals can do to reduce their anger, such as biking, jogging or walking. A study by The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine also indicated that T’ai Chi is an effective exercise to help reduce anger in those who battle alcohol abuse .
- Practice meditation and mindfulness. A Conscious and Cognition study suggested that a simple 20-minute meditation session is effective in reducing anger . Individuals who need help with managing their anger while recovering can start practicing meditation and mindfulness by sitting in a comfortable position and practice breathing exercises. Even if thoughts arise, individuals on the path to sobriety can simply note these thoughts and return to focusing on their breathing exercises by letting the thoughts come and go as they occur.
- Practice self-awareness. Recognizing the signs of anger addiction is essential to managing one’s anger addiction during recovery. An inability to control one’s anger, threatening violence and a consistent feeling of hostility are signs of atypical anger . It’s important for individuals to practice self-awareness and recognize the signs so they know to get help.
- Move on. People frequently stay angry in most cases because they are unable to move past negative experiences. However, it’s crucial for individuals on the path of sobriety to learn to move forward. Avoiding dwelling on the past is the key to creating a positive mindset.
While anger addiction can impede staying on course for many individuals fighting to maintain their sobriety, it does not have to be a journey they need to travel alone. Instead, Serenity View Recovery Center can help . Serenity View Recovery Center offers services to help with anger management and substance abuse from a professional, licensed staff so that individuals get the help they need on their path to sobriety.