There may be more to anger than just feelings. Sometimes, when people seek help from psychologists for their anger issues, an assessment may reveal that one of the reasons behind their anger is extensive drug or alcohol use.
In cases where substance abuse is present, feeling angry may be a symptom of drugs or alcohol affecting their brains. Often, the more you abuse drugs or alcohol, the angrier you become.
Substance abuse may lead to anger for several reasons. For instance, if individuals stop using alcohol or drugs and are going through withdrawal, they may experience guilt and relationship problems. They may be angry about these problems and worry about solving them. They may turn to alcohol or drug again because they feel that their situations are hopeless.
What Are the Connections Between Anger and Substance Abuse?
Anger, violent tendencies, and aggression often co-occur alongside substance abuse. In some instances, anger may lead to a drug or alcohol addiction:
- Stresses of life may be overwhelming, leading individuals to cope with their frustration and anger by indulging in alcohol or drugs
- Rage becomes so intense that people turn to alcohol or drugs to numb their pain
- Anger issues may cause problems at home or work, prompting distressed individuals to use substances to cope
In other situations, substance abuse may lead to anger:
- Abusing drugs such as Klonopin may produce side effects that cause aggression or anger
- Alcohol may cause repressed anger to bypass an individual’s normal restraint
- Cocaine abuse may cause violent and aggressive behavior
- Substance abuse may cause problems such as financial stress, DUIs, work conflicts, job losses, or relationship turmoil that may lead to anger, particularly if any of these events occur simultaneously
- Dependence on alcohol or drugs may create resentment and anger
It is important to remember that the presence of anger is not the issue. At one point or another, everyone feels angry. Sometimes, people even become enraged. Anger is a part of life, and it is sometimes unavoidable. When the furious feelings last for extended periods, occur frequently, cause violent behavior, or consume a person, then they may become dangerous.
Some people who are addicted to alcohol or drugs have problems dealing with anger and expressing it appropriately. Anger and relapsing from sobriety are often linked because addicted individuals may abuse drugs or alcohol to mask their feelings.
People who are not able to express their anger healthily may use additional alcohol or drugs as a means of coping with their strong emotions. This behavior only creates and drives a destructive cycle. If you want to abstain from substance abuse without relapsing, it is vital to learn how to manage your anger in positive and constructive ways.
Why Is It Difficult to Manage Your Anger If You Are Addicted to Alcohol or Drugs?
Addicted people may have learned to express their anger in unhealthy ways from those close to them when they were still young.
The addicted person may deny feeling angry about a traumatic event such as the loss of a loved one, a rape, or child abuse. As a result, they may experience increasing feelings of anger and resentment even without realizing it.
Addiction prevents individuals from healthily expressing their feelings of anger.
Although addicted people may be angry with themselves, they may also blame the people around them for their problems.
How Does Substance Abuse Impact Anger?
People who use alcohol or drugs to cope with their problems often do not know how to manage their anger. Rather, they express anger in negative ways, which may include:
- Screaming violent threats
- Emotionally blackmailing other people. They may ignore their loved ones for extended periods without letting them know why they are angry
- Becoming aggressive whenever they are angry. They may push, punch, kick, or hit others
- Blocking their feelings of anger and avoiding confronting the issues that are causing their anger
- Plotting revenge on the people who they believe have wronged them
How Can You Appropriately Deal with Your Anger?
Here are ways to handle your feelings of anger without turning to alcohol or drugs:
- Walk away if things seem like they are spinning out of control. Leaving gives you physical and emotional space. It may help you cool off before going back and addressing the situation more rationally and calmly
- Take a few deep breaths until you are feeling calmer and then evaluate the circumstances. Try to look at the situation from the other person’s perspective
- Learn how to express anger positively using assertive and nondefensive forms of communication
- Avoid toxic people and situations that make you angry
- Express your anger creatively. For instance, consider painting, writing a song, singing, or describing your emotions in a journal
- Exercise to channel your feelings of anger. You may do this by punching a gym bag, running, swimming, or participating in other physical activities.
One worrisome yet interesting aspect about the relationship between anger and substance abuse is that many people do not realize that they have anger issues or that anger and substance abuse are linked. People who know they have trouble managing their anger may downplay it as a symptom of drug or alcohol abuse. They may assume that when they become sober, their anger will automatically fade away.
For people with anger disorders, addressing emotions is not that easy. To bring healing to the mind, spirit, and body and encourage recovery, people need to address both their anger and their substance abuse.
Anger management will be ineffective for people who are angry and continue to abuse drugs such as Klonopin and alcohol. Since they are struggling with both anger and substance abuse, the best course of action would be to seek help from a rehab center for alcoholics or a rehab facility for drug abuse.
Once people successfully complete rehab programs, they are often less angry. Occasionally, individuals may require anger management programs because different people require different treatments.
Another way to handle anger in a healthy way is by meditation. Once you have decided to receive the help you need in a rehab center, resentment and anger may still sneak up on you, even in recovery.
When things are going well, it may be easier to maintain your resolve to be sober. When you become stressed because of a huge argument with your partner, financial problems, or a long day at work, you may feel angry and dwell on everything that is going wrong.
In the past, you may have used alcohol or drugs as a crutch to deal with such problems. The situation may feel overwhelming and you may find it difficult to maintain your sobriety.
That is where meditation may help. Meditation may help you focus on what is presently happening in your life while allowing you to leave your past behind. It allows you to release your worries and fears, even if this release is only for a short time.
As an added bonus, you do not require any special skills to do it, and you may meditate almost anywhere at almost any time. All you need to do is clear your mind, concentrate on your breathing, and relax your body. There are also a variety of guided meditation options for anger management.
Although meditation does not erase all of your problems, you may be surprised at how much it may put them into perspective. A few moments of peace and some time alone may be all you need to change your attitude and overcome your problems. Letting go of anger may help improve your mental health and aid in your sobriety.