Anger in substance abuse recovery can be potentially dangerous. On its own, the emotion can cause high blood pressure which can lead to stroke; depression, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders and a number of other physical conditions.
Drug abuse such as cocaine and heroin, as well as alcohol abuse can not only increase an individual’s anger but it can aggravate unresolved emotions and be a revolving door to further alcohol and drug abuse as a coping mechanism. When it is combined with alcohol and drug abuse and addiction, it is important that the individual seek a substance abuse program that includes anger management in the recovery process.
Managing Aggression throughout Recovery
Individuals who have alcohol or drug abuse will act out their aggression in one or more ways including becoming physical such as punching, kicking or hitting. In some cases, the individual may vent their hostilities against a person or situation. It is not uncommon for individuals to seek revenge against the object of their feelings. On the other hand, some individuals never learn how to let out their emotions and so they hold it inside or they will avoid the source of their anger and refuse to acknowledge it. This type of internalized anger can be as damaging to the self as externalizing the emotion.
Persons struggling for balance find that participating in meditation or yoga helps them to manage their anger. Learning to take a deep breath and calm down and evaluate the situation before they react is also helpful. Additionally, developing ways to communicate aggression in ways that do not resort to physical or verbal abuse can help manage anger productively.
Best Methods for Treatment
Most substance abuse recovery counselors believe that when there is both anger and substance abuse, it is best to treat them at the same time. Therapy should be included to help the individual in recovery understand their rage, such as its origins, the triggers that aggravate it and how to effectively process it. Holistic therapies including meditation, yoga and acupuncture can help individuals remain calm and teaches techniques to control their emotions. Some counselors also recommend that the individual participate in group therapy.
Many individuals discover that after their substance abuse has ended, that they are not as angry or that it is not as easily triggered – in other words, they are able to better control their emotions. They also find that it is easier to understand their aggression, the reasons behind it and most realize that without drugs and alcohol abuse, the emotion is not as prevalent in their life.