Experiencing anger is a natural part of life. Everyone gets angry at some point or another. It is, to a large extent, inevitable. But it is also one emotion that can get out of control or become problematic if not dealt with in a healthy, responsible manner. That’s where anger management comes in. Anger management and substance abuse can often go hand in hand. Anger is the process of learning to cope with anger and substance abuse. It is not meant to eliminate anger from someone’s life entirely. Instead, anger management is designed to help people put coping mechanisms and practices in place so that when they do experience anger, they do not let it control them.
What Is Anger Management?
Anger management is the process of helping someone learn to deal with their anger in productive, helpful ways. As mentioned in the introduction, it is not a means of eliminating anger from your life altogether. Rather, it is an approach to regulating anger and learning different ways to address it so that it does not derail your life, relationships, or profession.
Anger management therapy relies on a set of three techniques to produce positive outcomes. These three techniques used in anger management therapy are described below.
1. Identifying Triggers and Responses
Many people are unaware of what causes their anger. They may not realize what is setting them off and causing their anger to spiral and become their dominant emotion. Anger management helps people understand what leads to anger, what a typical reaction looks like, and what the consequences of that anger happen to be.
2. Anger Diffusion
The second technique, called anger diffusion, is the process of disrupting anger or at least managing the response in a healthy manner. For instance, therapy will help someone learn anger diffusion by roleplaying scenarios that make someone angry. Instead of letting the anger go unchecked, therapy will offer different strategies that keep anger from taking over a situation or causing damage.
3. Modifying Thoughts and Behaviors
The last overarching technique in anger management is the process of changing thoughts and behaviors. Anger cannot always be controlled. But the response to anger can be planned. Negative patterns like catastrophizing or judging can be disrupted during anger management, and new methods of reacting can be put in place.
The Correlation Between Anger and Substance Abuse
For many individuals struggling with substance abuse, anger can be a significant trigger. When experiencing intense anger or frustration, some individuals may turn to drugs or alcohol as a means to cope with these overwhelming emotions. The substances can provide a temporary escape or a way to numb the intense feelings of anger. Conversely, substance abuse can lead to increased feelings of anger and irritability. This can be due to the physiological effects of the substances themselves, withdrawal symptoms, or the stress and challenges associated with living a life affected by substance abuse.
Both anger issues and substance abuse stem from deeper underlying problems, such as past trauma, mental health disorders like depression or anxiety, or stressors in one’s personal or professional life. In such cases, both the anger and the substance abuse might be symptoms of these underlying issues.
How Can Unhealthy Anger Management Lead to Relapse?
Unhealthy anger management can significantly contribute to the risk of relapse in individuals recovering from substance abuse for several reasons:
- Trigger for Substance Use: Anger can be a powerful emotional trigger for substance use. Individuals who have not developed healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with anger might find themselves turning back to substance use as a way to manage or escape from their intense emotions.
- Impaired Decision-Making: Anger can impair judgment and lead to impulsive decisions. In the heat of anger, a person might find it harder to stick to their recovery commitments or to remember the reasons why they chose sobriety in the first place.
- Stress and Anxiety: Chronic anger and poor anger management can increase overall levels of stress and anxiety, which are themselves risk factors for relapse. The physical and emotional strain of unmanaged anger can wear down a person’s resilience and ability to cope with cravings or triggers.
- Social and Relational Issues: Unhealthy anger can strain relationships with friends, family, and support networks. These relationships are often crucial for recovery, providing emotional support and accountability. Damaged relationships can lead to isolation and a lack of support, increasing the risk of relapse.
How We Utilize Anger Management in Substance Abuse Treatment
Incorporating anger management into substance abuse treatment, particularly in settings like detox and residential treatment, is crucial for addressing the holistic needs of individuals in recovery. Here’s how anger management can be effectively utilized in these settings:
- Assessment and Monitoring: During the detox phase, professionals assess the individual’s mental and emotional state, including their ability to manage anger. This helps in tailoring subsequent treatment.
- Crisis Intervention: Immediate strategies may be employed to manage acute instances of anger, especially as they might arise from withdrawal symptoms.
- Introduction to Anger Management Techniques: Even in the early stages of detox, individuals can be introduced to basic anger management techniques such as deep breathing, mindfulness, and simple cognitive-behavioral strategies.
- Creating a Safe Environment: A calm and supportive environment is crucial during detox. This helps in minimizing triggers for anger and provides a space where patients feel safe to express their emotions.
- Structured Anger Management Programs: Residential treatment centers often offer structured anger management programs, which can include group therapy, individual counseling, workshops, and educational sessions.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This is a common approach in residential treatment that helps individuals recognize and change negative thought patterns that contribute to anger and substance abuse.
- Skill Development: Patients are taught specific skills for managing anger, such as identifying triggers, employing relaxation techniques, practicing assertive communication, and developing problem-solving skills.
- Family Therapy: Involving family members can help in addressing relationship dynamics that might contribute to anger and substance abuse.
- Relapse Prevention Planning: Anger management is a critical component of relapse prevention. Individuals are encouraged to develop personal plans that include strategies for handling anger in high-risk situations.
Benefits of Anger Management in Addiction Treatment
Anger management can be incredibly helpful for people who struggle with anger or rage on a regular basis. The first benefit to note about anger management is how impactful it can be across different areas of a person’s life. For instance, anger management can improve:
- Physical health
- Mental health
- Career prospects
From those larger benefits, it’s worth drilling down to the more tactical benefits. First, anger management helps you understand your triggers. Many people are unaware. They get angry a lot but have no clue what sets them off. Anger management equips people with the knowledge of what their triggers are and what they can do to lessen the impact of those impacts.
Second, anger management helps people acquire coping skills and relaxation techniques. These can be put in place proactively so that anger becomes less common. They can also be used reactively in situations where anger bubbles up. Third, anger management tends to improve a person’s communication skills. Expressing feelings without resorting to anger is essential and something anyone can learn through anger management.
Find Anger Management for Substance Abuse in Athens, Georgia Today!
You don’t have to let your anger and addiction control your life. Serenity Grove is here to help you overcome your anger issue with our . Call 844.904.3485 or fill out our online contact form to learn more about anger management and how it can improve your life today.