Addiction recovery is an emotional rollercoaster filled with highs and lows. You will experience both triumphs and tribulations; at times it may feel like your emotions are running wild. One of the many emotions along for this ride is anger, and if you do not learn anger management in recovery, it could derail your sobriety journey.
Anger in Addiction Recovery
Recovery from a substance abuse problem is an emotional journey, and anger is a prominent feeling during this time for many. Especially during a drug detox program, when your body is going through withdrawal, anger is a natural response. While the physical symptoms may wane, the psychological symptoms of withdrawal can linger long after treatment is over. This can leave many people feeling irritable or angry even after their program is completed.
The many changes in early recovery doesn’t help either. Some people may react to these changes with anger that can be both warranted but also at times misplaced. The problem is that because anger is such a powerful emotion, it can be overwhelming or lead to negative consequences. Especially for someone in recovery, anger in sobriety can be dangerous and could even lead to relapse if not dealt with properly. This is why reducing anger in recovery is so important.
How to Deal with Anger in Addiction Recovery Toward Others
Many recovering addicts will find themselves angry at others, or at least taking their frustrations out on others. When you lash out, it can hurt the relationships that you are already trying to rebuild and leave you feeling worse.
Instead of giving into your anger, follow these tips for dealing with and reducing anger in recovery that is directed at others.
- Reflect – Examine the source of your anger and determine if it was warranted or if it was your addiction talking.
- Apologize – If you do lash out for unwarranted reasons, apologize immediately so that you can move forward with this relationship.
- Forgive – You may be angry at someone for not trusting you yet, but forgiveness takes time and you have to prove to them that you have changed.
- Walk Away – When you start to feel triggered, like your anger could come out, walk away. Take time to calm down and really examine your feelings.
- Practice Therapy – In rehab, you likely underwent several addiction treatment therapies that focused on helping you cope and relax. Put these techniques into practice outside of treatment.
Dealing with Anger at Yourself During Recovery
While you may take it out on others, the source of this anger for many people in addiction recovery is actually ill feelings against themselves. A lot of people in early recovery especially feel guilty and ashamed of their wrongdoings as well as letting their problems get so bad. Instead of dealing with these emotions, they may fester and can come out as anger.
Instead of letting your anger hinder your progress, try dealing with anger in recovery in a healthy manner.
- Forgive Yourself – The first step in overcoming this inner anger is often forgiving yourself for your past wrongdoings. This can take time, but it is important to make an effort.
- Talk It Out – Sometimes outbursts are the result of holding this anger in. Instead of letting the anger build, talk it out with someone you trust or a trained professional.
- Focus on Your Accomplishments – While you may have made mistakes, just going to a rehab treatment center alone is a big accomplishment. Instead of dwelling on the past, focus on the progress you made. You will start to replace that anger with more positive emotions.
- Look to the Future – Along with recognizing what you have already accomplished, set goals for the future. Reminding yourself that you have more you want to achieve is a good way to focus your energy elsewhere.
- Practice Self-Love – Some of this anger may stem from low self-esteem but practicing self-love can boost your confidence and help eliminate some of this lingering anger.
At Banyan Treatment Centers, we believe in a comprehensive approach to treatment. Whether someone goes to one of our outpatient or intensive inpatient drug rehabs, we focus on looking at addiction as a whole and its secondary issues like anger. Whether it is anger at others or anger at yourself, be careful not to let this powerful emotion get the best of you. It is important to learn how to deal with anger in recovery, so that you can focus on moving forward and continuing your progress.