Anger Management and Substance Abuse: Dealing With Anger in Recovery

Anger in recovery has its costs and its benefits. It is normal to be angry during treatment and recovery. However, with this in mind, you should try to manage your anger and stress. In many cases, people tend to blame their anger on others, which entirely misses the true root of the problem.

One of the most important things about anger during recovery is understanding you are in control of your emotions. In recovery and in life, we may think other people make us angry when in reality this is not the case. There are a few things we can do to practice controlling our anger. 

Why Do You Get So Angry?

anger in recovery

In almost all cases of anger, your own actions and beliefs bring it about. To really understand the root of your emotions, it’s best to look at the event that made you angry. After you can take a look at your beliefs about the event, ask yourself, “What exactly am I angry about?”

There are many different elements that can make you annoyed or angry about something. Someone may have been rude to you, or maybe someone cut you off in traffic. Whatever may have happened, try to get to the real issue. What are you telling yourself that makes you feel mad about the event? 

In these cases, it usually isn’t a question (“Why did they do that?”) or a “should’ve” statement that gets us wound up; it’s something deeper. Regardless of what might make you personally angry, there are many ways to keep it under control. Plus, in many cases, our thoughts only further fuel our anger.

Anger is An Emotional Disturbance

As an emotional disturbance, anger can affect the way you think and feel in certain situations. As previously mentioned, other people do not create this anger in you. As opposed to making yourself angry, you can simply feel irritated and not like the actions of others. This makes your anger more manageable.

By looking at things differently, you can effectively handle your own inner anger. In addiction recovery, it’s important to have these feelings intact. Anger in recovery can be more negative than positive in many situations. 

The Costs of Anger

A good way to tame your anger is to understand the costs and benefits of anger. Putting in perspective what you have to gain or lose can make you think twice before getting angry. There are a number of consequences that can come from continuous anger in and out of recovery. 

Some of the common consequences of anger include:

As a recovering addict, you must take a look at the list above and weigh your options. Things can happen quickly, and by acting through anger you can damage relationships and even your happiness in some cases. It’s also worth mentioning the shaky line between anger management and substance abuse as well. 

The Benefits of Anger

Believe it or not, there are some “benefits” to anger, too. When weighing your options, it’s also useful to consider the positives of your situation. However, many of the benefits of anger are short-term, and they’ll rarely bring much happiness. 

Below are some of the minor benefits of anger:

While this list is not as compelling as the costs of anger, it’s important to see both sides of the spectrum. Analyzing the pros and cons of anger, especially during recovery, can help you think twice before acting. 

A Closer Look at The Irrational Beliefs That Fuel Your Anger

One of the very first steps to tackling your anger is identifying your beliefs. First, focus on the event that made you angry. After, focus on the shoulds and judgements in your mind that fuel this anger. This is how you can pinpoint your irrational beliefs and work on them.

For example, take a statement like, “They shouldn’t say things like that, they’re terrible for saying that.” You can break this down by using a technique called Disputing Irrational Beliefs (DIB).

In this case, the irrational belief would be, “They shouldn’t say things like that, they’re terrible for saying that.” Now, this could be disputed by asking: Is there evidence to prove that this is true? The answer would be no. There really is no way to prove that they are terrible for saying that, even if you don’t particularly like or agree with it. 

The final question would be: What are the benefits of giving up your belief? Well, it would calm your anger down a bit. You may not like what they did or said, but you can focus on their other qualities and focus on relating to the person, even through their faults. While this train of thought might be tough at first, it can make a big difference to anger in recovery. 

Chain of Upsets

A chain of upsets can sometimes occur when you’re angry. This basically happens when you get angry about being angry. This typically occurs between a primary and secondary disturbance. 

Primary Disturbance

The first disturbances happen when you make yourself angry. As discussed earlier, these start with an irrational belief, like thinking everyone should treat you kindly and the way you want. 

Another belief that can make you angry is the idea that the world should align with your preferences and biases on how people should act. These beliefs can come in many forms and if left underlooked can lead to the next stage of the chain. 

Secondary Disturbance

In the secondary disturbance, you fully understand that your anger has gotten the best of you. This can make you feel inadequate and worthless with more irrational thoughts. You may feel that you have been disturbed by your anger and that those around you are well aware of it. 

anger in recovery

If you reach the second phase of anger (or disturbance), you may find it especially hard to calm your anger down. Additionally, there are other forms of secondary disturbances and things that fuel your anger further after a primary disturbance:

Going Around in Circles 

When you express your hatred or anger to others, they will respond with anger or hatred. This creates a vicious cycle as you think they are out to get you (all the while, they are thinking the same thing about you).

The only way these conflicts get resolved is by someone completely stepping back from the equation. In some cases, it involves finding an alternate understanding that cools down the anger. 

Taking Control of Your Anger During Recovery

Anger can be a powerful and sometimes dangerous emotion during addiction recovery. In some cases, anger can drive people back to drugs or alcohol. This is why you need to be aware of your anger and try to take control of it. 

As discussed, understanding your irrational beliefs is one of the first steps to controlling your anger. Realizing that you are in full control regardless of the people around you is key. You may not be able to control what happens around you, but you can choose how you react to it. 

By Disputing Irrational Beliefs (DIB) and using therapeutic exercises, you can slowly begin to take control of your anger. This takes patience and a clear mind. Recovering from addiction is hard enough, and negative emotions like anger are only barriers in the way of a better life. 

Get Help Today

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, CNV Detox may be able to help. Our qualified staff will be by your side every step of the way. We help with a number of mental health disorders, drug addictions, and we can also help you level your anger as well. Contact us today for more information.