Attending rehab and pursuing recovery from substance abuse brings a host of physical and mental symptoms. Physically, the person is dealing with withdrawal from their drug of choice, which is difficult enough. As the drug wears off, the emotions that the person was trying to suppress often come out. One of the strongest and most volatile emotions that we see in recovery is anger.
It's perfectly normal to experience anger in the early stages of addiction recovery. This article discusses ways to cope with it.
The truth is that anger can complicate the recovery process. It’s a messy emotion that can serve as the foil to serious depression. It can push the patient into venting behaviors that can be expressed physically. Anger can turn into abuse or violence; so it is imperative that the emotion is handled appropriately in Washington State addiction recovery.
Anger in recovery is a common occurrence, and it can cause real problems for people both in and out of addiction recovery. But expressing anger can actually feel good, and it can achieve immediate relief of the underlying feelings. We call this venting, and it’s a temporary fix when a person in recovery should be focused on longer-term strategies that they can carry forward for the rest of their lives.
There is evidence that anger breeds more anger, increasing aggression and rage inside a person. While expressing anger in Washington State addiction recovery can be helpful, ultimately, we try to teach substance users how to cope with their anger by learning and practicing coping strategies. While these strategies don’t work in extreme cases, it can help for less troubled clients. Some techniques that you may learn in addiction recovery include:
- Self-management, including counting to 50 and deep breathing to calm the frustration and anger before expressing it.
- Taking a cool shower or a hot bath as a relaxation technique, along with listening to calming music can help deflect anger before it’s vented.
- Practicing mindfulness, a deliberate process of deflecting the mind and calming it.
- Doing something that is the opposite of anger. This could be hugging someone or kissing your spouse or petting a dog or cat. These activities are incompatible with anger.
A standard part of most Washington State drug rehab programs includes keeping a journal to track the daily physical and emotional feelings that the recovering person is experiencing. One of the issues we try to track, particularly in the case of people experiencing anger as part of their recovery process, is what triggered these feelings. Understanding the triggers of anger can ultimately help a person avoid these issues in the future.
Addiction recovery includes individual and group counseling sessions specifically designed to understand these and other difficult emotions. Once we understand the anger, depression, or other feelings, we can then practice behavioral therapy to begin to change how people react when anger rears its ugly and sometimes hurtful face. Addiction recovery can heal these feelings and help people cope and learn new ways of behaving.