Tag: anger

Anger and Recovery: Dealing with Anger in Addiction Recovery

Learning to deal with uncomfortable emotions in an effective and health way is likely new territory to those who are in early addiction recovery. While we learn to manage our emotions more effectively as we accumulate greater lengths of sober time, it is likely that we all have moments of weakness during which “spiritual soundness” flies out the window and we are ready to explode with anger.

Anger and Recovery

Whether we get stuck behind a little old lady traveling down the freeway at 20 mph or we find out that our roommate has eaten the last of our cereal yet again, we are liable as human beings to snap from time to time. This is normal and we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves for occasionally losing our tempers. At the same time, anger can become an issue and we have a responsibility to own up to our faults, especially when we are in recovery and are working an honest program.

But how exactly do you deal with anger when you’re newly sober but unsure about how to manage your anger and recovery at the same time?

Dealing with Anger in Early Recovery

Before properly tackling your anger issues, you must first partake in a little self-analysis. What makes you angry? Maybe you start to get angry when you let resentments surrounding work, interpersonal relationships, and your home life start to build.

If this is the case, you can probably begin nipping the issue in the bud by talking to your sponsor or another sober support before giving your anger a chance to build.

If you find you lose your temper regularly, you may need to practice some healthy coping skills so that the anger does not eat away at you. Some common healthy coping skills are going for a walk or run, reading a book, calling up an old friend, writing your thoughts down in paper or in a journal, etc.

It can even help to get in tap with your spirituality. What does this mean exactly? It means working to understand yourself and getting in tune with your inner emotions without letting them control you. You can do this by practicing meditation, reciting positive affirmations, exercising, or focusing on nature. Not only will these help you start the process of getting in touch with your spirituality but it can help you calm down and discover what matters most.

Healthy Ways to Deal with Anger

For more detail on healthy coping skills, take a look at these popular ways to help handle anger and aggression, and try employing some of them when you feel yourself start to lose your cool.

  • Don’t deny your feelings.

Recognize and acknowledge the way you are feeling. Are you pissed off? That’s okay. Analyze why you’re so mad. What role did you play? Take a mini inventory and do your best not to place the blame on others but focus on what your anger says about you.

  • Call someone you trust right away.

As soon as you feel yourself starting to lose it, give your sponsor a quick call. Talk through your experience and the way it made you feel. Putting things on the table as soon as they transpire can and will make a world of difference.

  • Take a jog around the block.

Release some of your built up aggression through a physical activity. Taking a quick jog will wear yourself out and will help relieve some feelings of anger you may be experiencing.

  • Communicate with the person you are angry at in a healthy way.

While this is not always the easiest thing to do, sit down with the individual who you feel has wronged you and talk things out like adults. Wait until you’ve cooled down a bit, of course.

  • Try to immediately reverse your attitude.

Want to scream at the lady in front of you at the grocery store who is paying for her milk with nickels and dimes? Try smiling at her and practice patience. Maybe consider even offering to buy her milk for her.

  • Give it some time.

If you’ve tried all (or most) of the above, and you still feel a little bit rubbed the wrong way, just give yourself time to let things blow over.

Losing Your Temper from Time to Time is Normal

Remember to not be too hard on yourself. If you beat yourself up every time you flip off the moron who cut you off in traffic, you will only be engaging in more self-defeating behavior. Simply acknowledge the areas that need improvement and make a conscious decision to work towards bettering yourself. Progress, not perfection!

Seeking Help for Addiction

Are you not able to control your anger? Do you find that you resort to abusing substances as a way to cope with your anger or frustration? Getting help for an addiction to drugs or alcohol can help you work on the true underlying problems of your condition. By getting help, you can learn to work through your emotions and cope with life in a healthier manner.

Lighthouse offers a full continuum of care for the treatment of addiction, which can begin with medical detoxification and inpatient rehabilitation. Don’t hesitate to get help you need today by calling our admissions specialists now at 1-866-308-2090. 

Why Does Staying Angry Keep Us Locked in Addiction?

Why are Addicts Always so Angry?

anger and addiction fuel each other

Anger and addiction go together like peanut butter and sardines, Christmas and menorahs, and a suit with sneakers.

Okay, those are some off-the-wall comparisons, but for good reason! Anger and addiction go together…but they shouldn’t!

I’ll explain exactly what I’m talking about below. First, though, here’s a bit of background – I found this insightful Psych Central article the other day. In it, Christine Hammond explores the intersection of anger and addictive behavior. Something we can all relate to, right?

I agree with her take on how anger fuels addiction, but think some solution is needed. Don’t you?

So, find my thoughts on how anger fans the flames of addiction and, more importantly, how to beat both anger and addiction below!

Anger & Addiction

It’s no secret that addicts and alcoholics are angry people. I say that as a man who’s lived both sides of the addiction coin – active drug use and years in recovery.

Guess what? I was angry in active addiction and angry in sobriety. My levels of anger cooled off considerably once I put down the drink and drugs, but they were still there.


Because anger and addiction are irrevocably intertwined. See, addicts and alcoholics don’t get loaded because we’re bad people – though we’ve certainly been known to do some bad things – we get loaded because we’re suffering from an emotional and mental disease.

On both fronts, mental and emotional, we struggle with anger and other character defects.

Sometimes this anger is directed at others. Phrases like how could you do that to me? Don’t you know what I’ve been through? If you lived me life, well, you’d get high too are all common refrains I used in active addiction.

Sometimes this anger is directed inwards. Thoughts like I’m a failure. I’m worthless and always mess everything up. I’m drunk again? What happened? bounced around my head on a daily basis.

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You want to know the cool thing about inwardly and outwardly directed anger? It’s actually just a symptom of a larger problem or issue.

I walked around angry for years of my life because A) I couldn’t accept not being in control of other peoples’ lives and B) I couldn’t accept not being in control of my own life.

After I ended up in like my 5 millionth rehab, a counselor pointed this out to me. My initial reaction to this jewel of wisdom was – drumroll please – anger!

After taking a minute to think about it, really think about it, I realized she was right. I was angry because, ultimately, I was powerless over much of what happens in this world.

Years, and a few thousand dollars of therapy, later…and I’m still powerless! The difference between today and back then? Today I accept my powerlessness. Today I embrace it and guess what?

I’m a lot less angry!

Beating Anger is also Beating Addiction

And this brings us to my grand point – my thesis if you want to get academic about it – anger kept me getting high for longer than I would have otherwise gotten high.

Don’t get me wrong, anger wasn’t the only emotional issue I dealt with and it certainly wasn’t the only reason I turned to drugs and alcohol. Still, if I’d been able to conquer my anger earlier – I’d also have gotten sober earlier.

Think about all the toxic stuff tied to anger. There’s self-pity, resentment, fear, jealously, and loneliness…just to name a few! That list could be increased by, oh, about 10 trillion.

Some of those, like resentments, are a byproduct of anger. Others, like fear, are tied into anger and fuel each other in a destructive fire of bad decisions.

So, how do we get rid of anger? How did I, a hopeless alcoholic and addict, beat anger and beat drugging and drinking?

The answer’s actually incredibly simple…but not easy!

Speaking of anger – why are alcoholics always so angry?

Want to Stop Being So Angry? Just Do This!

I stopped being so angry once…I let it go!

That’s the most generic advice ever, right? It’s also the most truthful advice I can offer about anger. If you want to stop being so angry, then stop being so angry!

beating anger is beating addiction

There were a few specific things I did to help speed this process along. After all, getting over anger can take a lifetime. Anything that can help cut down on some of these wasted years is certainly a plus.

To help let go of anger, I did the following:


  • Started going to intensive therapy – like twice a week intensive

  • Listened to what my therapist said. If she suggested I write a gratitude list or read a certain bit of cheesy, inspirational literature – I did

  • Attempt meditation and not the sitting cross-legged on the floor stuff, but sitting quietly with a prayer or saying and reflecting on just it means

  • Attended some anger management workshops and reached out to a community of recovering “rageoholics”

  • Started breathing exercises – even if I thought they were useless, I did them anyway

  • Took a long, hard look at my past and accepted where I was to blame in specific situations and resentments

After doing those…my anger wasn’t that hard to let go of. Ultimately, I have a choice. I can choose to be right – which often involves being angry – or I can choose to be happy.

I know what I choose. What about you?

Want to get better today? Find out how!

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