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Anger Management and Addiction

    Anger Management and Addiction

    From time to time, everybody has feelings or moments of anger. This can be a natural reaction that is often justifiable when expressed in a safe and healthy way. However, when anger is poorly managed, it can lead to adverse consequences for some people, and more so if there is the problem of addiction.

    There are many things that can cause anger, so learning healthy and safe ways to cope is important, especially if substance abuse is a factor in a person’s life. Drug abuse can worsen if anger is poorly managed.

    Problems with substance abuse and anger are often closely linked. Children who grow up in homes where they witness violence and drug abuse are more likely to become violent drug users as adults. Exposure to this kind of environment can leave children with some of the following problems;

    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Low self-esteem
    • Bullying/fighting
    • Anger
    • Socially withdrawn
    • Poor performance in school
    • Unruly behaviour

    Witnessing violence and domestic abuse in the home can have serious consequences. A child who sees this kind of behaviour can end up with a damaged personality following this trauma, which can affect them negatively in life.

    These early traumas can cause a person to abuse substances at a young age to cope with the stress. Using drugs at a younger age raises the risk of a life of addiction.

    Children are not the only potential people at risk in the home. The chance of abusing harmful drugs is also high in spouses dealing with domestic violence in the home.

    If an abused partner decides to stay in a violent relationship, they may consider using illegal substances to deal with the stress of the situation. The longer they abuse these types of drugs, the higher the chance of addiction for themselves, and potentially their children.

    Anger Management and Addiction – The Constant Cycle

    For someone battling addiction, coping safely with their anger may be very difficult. A person battling an alcohol addiction may react excessively, depending on the situation.

    However, if a person was dealing with feelings of extreme anger, using alcohol to solve this could have the opposite effect.

    When it comes to alcohol or illegal substances, anger can worsen due to the chemicals within them often interfering with the brain. Whether a person is using alcohol or drugs to lessen the feelings of anger or becoming angry due to dependence, this cycle will continue to get worse.

    The amount of drink or drugs being used may increase to cope with this, which would be even more dangerous.

    This could then lead to other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. This may cause a person to begin experimenting with other substances, which would cause a strain on relationships as well as their health. It could also make them feel vulnerable and exposed, which can make them feel angrier.

    For some people, the anger issues they have are not connected to their addiction but are often mistaken as a symptom of them. These anger issues need to be addressed and treated separately from their alcohol and drug addiction to prevent relapses or increases in usage.[1]

    Substances and Anger

    Certain substances can have more of a reaction to anger than others. Increasing the use of these drugs can have some severe negative effects. Alcohol, and drugs like cocaine and anabolic steroids alter chemicals in the brain and can cause irritability, aggression, and violence.

    A person will become angrier the more they take drugs or abuse alcohol. Prolonged use only increases tolerance to substances, so a person will need even larger quantities to feel the same effects. This in turn will cause more damage to the brain because of the chemicals in them.

    Illegal drugs contain many dangerous substances, poisonous chemicals, and harmful toxins. There is added risk with buying drugs off the street as there is no way of knowing what exactly is in them, and the harm they can cause.

    Drug dealers can also be pushy and aggressive and will constantly try to encourage people to buy and use substances more.

    This would cause stressful financial worries that come with increased usage as the cost of some substances can be high. If a person is unable to afford to buy more drugs, they may become angry and irrational.

    They may also become aggressive towards others if they become desperate for money to fund their addiction. There is also a risk they may turn to crime to fund their addiction.

    Healthy Anger Management

    There are several healthy ways in which a person can deal with their anger [2]. By coping in these ways, it may reduce the risks of substance abuse and help someone to lower their alcohol and drug use.

    Some of these healthier coping mechanisms can be things like:

    • Exercising
    • Meditation
    • Going for walks in calm spaces
    • Deep breathing exercises
    • Journaling
    • Painting/drawing
    • Talking with friends or family members
    • Finding a new hobby
    • Knowing your triggers
    • Noticing when anger is rising and finding a safe outlet
    • Going to a support group
    • Being honest with yourself and others

    If anger is left unresolved, it can lead to problems at work, relationship breakdowns, relapses, and damaging mental health problems. Losing a job could cause financial difficulties, which would only make both the anger and the substance abuse worse.

    Ignoring anger will not make it disappear and bottling up takes a lot of energy, which puts pressure on a person mentally and physically. The longer anger is ignored, the worse it will be when a person reaches a point where they explode with rage.

    Anger problems and addiction coupled with job loss and financial problems may cause a family to fall apart under the strain. This raises the risk of increased drug and alcohol use for those already addicted, and potentially their partners and children within the family.

    This could be prevented from happening is anger and addiction are dealt with before it reaches that point.

    Following a healthy management plan and being open and honest with those around you can help a person to deal with their anger safely and lower the risks of substance abuse. Having a good support network around you will also help to remove the feeling that you are dealing with issues alone.

    Dealing with anger in a positive way would also improve a persons’ mental state and help them to feel less negative.


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