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Some people abuse substances to numb the anger they feel towards themselves, someone else, or an experience they had that causes them pain. This article will discuss ways to monitor and manage anger issues to avoid relapse and improve quality of life. 

What Causes Anger Problems?

Some people grew up in households where they witnessed unhealthy communication patterns and relationship dynamics and learned that aggression is normal. They were not taught how to deal with their emotions in a healthy way.  

Other individuals have underlying mental health problems or are suffering from post-traumatic stress, as is often the case for those struggling with addiction. Hostility can be a sign that a person really needs help. They may be harboring guilt, disgust, shame, and resentment from something they did or something that someone did to them. 

When these painful emotions are bottled up, they eventually explode or surface under the right conditions. 

What Are Triggers for Anger?

What causes a person to become angry varies depending on that individual’s past experiences and current circumstances. However, situations that mimic or remind them of a past injustice can be triggering. Boundary crossing can also be a major trigger.

It will be important to reflect on times you become angry in order to avoid or manage situations that could trigger you in the future.

Can Anger Cause You to Relapse?

Like other emotions that stem from trauma and severe stress, episodes of anger can lead to relapse. An individual who is consumed with rage may turn to alcohol or drugs to soothe themselves like a person with depression would for their sadness. Therefore, learning how to manage anger is a key element of addiction treatment.

Recognizing When Your Anger Is Escalating 

Just as you can identify what causes you to become angry, you can learn to identify cues that occur as a response to situations. Cues are like red flags indicating when things are escalating. There are four cues to be aware of:

#1. A physical cue is a physiological response. Your heart rate may increase, and you might start sweating as adrenaline pumps through you. 

#2. Behavioral cues are observable physical actions, such as a change in the tone of your voice or pacing up and down a hall. Some people go on verbal rants.

#3. An emotional cue is a feeling that may bubble up with anger. For example, if your father has disrespected you, you may also feel hurt or betrayed. 

#4. Cognitive cues involve the narrative going on in your mind. Are you replaying the event repeatedly, imagining what you would have done differently? Are you putting yourself down or thinking about turning to revenge or violence?

The next time you’re triggered, be aware of how you are thinking, behaving, feeling, and responding. If you can be mindful, you can take steps to de-escalate the situation and avoid the negative consequences of lashing out.

How Can You Manage This Powerful Emotion?

Anger management first requires you to monitor your anger by identifying your triggers and cues. Then you can start to apply various strategies to calm yourself down. The following are some methods you can try: 

#1. Timeout: Simple yet effective, a timeout is merely a moment to yourself. Walk away from the situation, take a few deep breaths, and think about the best way to move forward. That can mean leaving the conversation or trying again with a different approach. 

#2. Friends and family: People that love you and know you best probably have a few tricks to either help you relax or rationalize the situation. 

#3. Go to the Twelve Steps: Peers in the Twelve Steps or other support groups understand what you are going through. Relating to another person can make you feel validated. Peers may also have their own tips for anger management. 

#4. Analyze and dispute: An angry response can stem from personal insecurities or a misinterpretation of an event. Take a moment to reflect on maladaptive thoughts and expectations you might be having and dispute them. Could the person mean something else? Is what they’re saying really that impactful on your well-being? 

#5. Breathwork: Breathing exercises can help calm an active nervous system, countering the psychological effects of a rush of adrenaline and cortisol

#6. Thought stopping: Tell yourself commands like “Don’t even go there. Let’s think about something else.” The point is to stop stressful thought processes before they begin and before they lead to a loss of control.

Getting Help With Managing Anger and Addiction 

Anger can be a self-perpetuating emotion, reinforcing unhealthy patterns of thinking and behaving. In other words, ignoring these problems can cause hostility and aggression to get worse. This is a precarious situation, especially for those prone to substance abuse and mental health disturbances. Profession treatment can help you acquire new skills and strategies to manage anger while healing from past trauma and addiction. 

Anger is a normal human response that has its benefits in certain situations. However, some individuals struggle to control their anger and become aggressive and explosive. Drugs and alcohol may be abused to relax and forget about what triggered them. West Coast Recovery Centers is an addiction treatment facility in Oceanside, CA. We offer outpatient and sober living services to adults. Family members are also included in the process of helping their loved one recover. We understand the challenges of dealing with addiction and anger. Oftentimes, these two issues go hand-in-hand with abuse and neglect. It will be important to unpack traumatic experiences that are still causing pain to effectively address anger problems and replace addictive behaviors. Our clinical team has diverse certifications and extensive experience in their field; our clients are in good hands. Please reach out today for more information at (760) 492-6509.