Why are Alcoholics Always so Angry?
For whatever reason, anger and alcohol go hand-in-hand. Anger is high on the list of emotions that alcoholics have a particularly hard time dealing with.
Everyone experiences anger. Most people experience anger and express it appropriately. However, for an alcoholic who’s trying to stay sober, learning how to identify and deal with anger is crucial. Just as anger and alcohol go hand-in-hand, so do recovery and the healthy expression of anger.
Continued and unchecked anger can turn aggressive. Even if anger doesn’t lead directly to a relapse, it often results in pain, misery, and damaged relationships.
Anger and Alcohol: The Disconnect in Understanding Anger
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, alcoholics struggle with recognizing and understanding anger. Alcoholics also struggles with expressing anger productively, stunted emotional maturity, and recognizing that they’re actually angry with themselves. For the alcoholic or addict in recovery, learning to process anger is a vital skill.
Anger and the Recovering Alcoholic
If you’re in a Florida IOP , or other intensive outpatient programs, or if you see a therapist, you’re in an ideal environment to learn emotional management techniques, and to discard old, unhealthy, ideas.
One of the most pressing issues when dealing with anger and alcoholics (in recovery or active addiction), is that anger can easily fester and turn into resentment. While that’s toxic and harmful for non-alcoholics, it’s outright deadly for alcoholics! Left alone for too long, unchecked anger and resentment often lead to relapse.
Alcoholics Can Learn to Manage Their Emotions
For someone who’s just getting sober, it usually becomes clear that learning how to manage their emotions is necessary for harmonious sobriety. To put it another way, anger and alcohol don’t mix. Regardless of someone’s upbringing, almost all alcoholics have skewed techniques for dealing with tough emotions. This is usually a direct result of having used alcohol for peace of mind for years. Many emotions fall into this “tough” category, but anger has particular power.
Don’t Deny Anger, Face It!
What anger does is poison the mind of the alcoholic in such a way that eventual justifications for acting out seem reasonable. This includes relapse, but can also manifest in other ways.
It can poison relationships and cause day-to-day situations, minor bumps in the road really, to become much larger events. Dealing with anger usually requires some work. While that work is done most effectively in a therapeutic setting, there are ways to work through it individually as well.
Acknowledging anger and expressing it, without turning it inwards or against others, is the first step. Denying that you’re angry, or insisting that it’s not an issue, is the same sort of thinking that causes so many alcoholics to have trouble with anger and alcohol.
Another huge step in letting go of anger is learning to forgive past harms. Most anger has roots in pain from long ago. Becoming willing to acknowledge this is crucial.
What you may find as a result of dealing with anger, rather than letting it fester, is serenity. Ultimately, the goal of recovery is not just to give up drugs and alcohol, but to release emotions that are toxic to peaceful living.