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How Are Anger and Addiction Related?

Posted on February 26, 2019

Are Anger and Addiction-Related?

We don’t get angry for no reason. Typically, we get angry when we’re hurt. This can be physical, as with abuse or assault, or it can be emotional, such as when a parent or loved one disparages, criticizes, neglects, or lies to us. When we’re hurt like this, especially when we’re children, we naturally become angry, but we often don’t manage that anger skillfully. Children of controlling or abusive parents quickly learn there’s no use in expressing their anger and they’re very likely to be punished for it. Others see the damage that anger can cause and go to great lengths to repress their own anger. Either way, you end up feeling angry because you are hurt, but instead of expressing it, you swallow it. You may become so cut off from your anger that you aren’t even aware of it.

This is where the problems begin. We get angry for a reason. We’re hurt, or we see others hurt, and anger spurs us to act to fix the situation. However, when we believe our anger will be punished, we don’t act. As a result, we feel helpless in the face of abuse and unfairness. Our anger turns inward, leading to depression and anxiety. Now, we have the original hurt, the anger we can’t express, and the anxiety and depression that results from the repression. That pain can’t just sit there. Many people use drugs or alcohol to numb the pain. Others spend all their time working because they feel like if they stay busy, they don’t have to think about the pain. In any case, addictive behavior often begins as a way of avoiding pain.

How Substance Use Impacts Anger

Substance use can also make anger worse. Alcohol, in particular, can numb pain, but it also impairs judgment and self-control, making you more impulsive and prone to act out in anger. It may lead to fights or reckless behavior. Cocaine can make you feel great about yourself, but it can also make you more aggressive. Mixing alcohol and cocaine is an especially bad combination for anyone who struggles with repressed anger.

Anger can also make recovery more difficult. The primary way is by alienating others. People are often wary of spending time with people who are prone to violent or aggressive behavior. Low key passive aggression can erode relationships just as badly and people who behave passive-aggressively are often not even aware they are doing it. However, sarcasm, stonewalling, and avoidance often alienate the people whose support you most need in recovery. Becoming aware of this behavior, learning to address the hurt that led to addiction, and finding constructive ways to express anger are all crucial parts of treatment.

Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance abuse, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.

For information on our programs,
call us today: 561-841-1296.