Anger is a powerful emotion that can be defined as a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. Anger is a natural emotion that everyone feels from time to time, and it is often a justifiable response when expressed in a healthy way. However, poor anger management can lead to a number of highly negative consequences to an individual and their loved ones, especially when addiction is involved.
Anger can be caused by a vast number of reasons, such as from boundaries being crossed or underlying, unhealed trauma. Whatever the cause, learning healthy methods to cope with anger is key in reducing substance-abuse related problems that emerge or are worsened because of poor anger management.
Anger, Domestic Violence, and Addiction
Anger is often closely connected to substance use disorders. Children who grow up in homes with high aggression and violence are more likely to become violent and abuse substances as adults. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry notes children who witness violence between partners can have the following symptoms:
- Fighting or bullying
- Low self-esteem
- Substance abuse
- Poor academic performance
- Social withdrawal
- Rebellious or oppositional behavior
As children are still developing personality traits and social skills, witnessing domestic abuse or parental drug abuse can cause trauma, which can affect their personality.
With many cases of juvenile substance use disorders, the younger someone begins experimenting with harmful chemicals, the bigger the problems they experience as they age. This cycle can carry on into adulthood and create more problems in the future. A final note can be the effect of domestic abuse on individuals. If a wife is being physically abused by her spouse, she may begin using harmful chemicals if she is not prepared to leave, to counter depression, anxiety, and other forms of emotional distress.
A Cycle of Anger and Addiction
Although anger can be a healthy emotion, someone battling a substance use disorder may struggle to cope with it in healthy ways. For example, someone who abuses alcohol may react with excessive anger depending on the circumstance. Conversely, someone may abuse alcohol to soothe angry feelings, often with the opposite effect. Regardless of the order of anger or substance abuse, chemicals can further disrupt and deepen feelings of anger.
Individuals can easily develop a dependent cycle of anger and substance abuse or use substances to cope with anger without realizing it. Consequently, this combination can worsen the condition of someone abusing chemicals and damage relationships. In response to anger, someone can develop temporary mental or emotional conditions like depression, anxiety, nervous breakdowns, and feelings of hopelessness. When the person abuses substances to cope with these consequences, a cycle may begin.
It can be hard to find healthy methods of expressing anger. Individuals can intensify their aggression or are at risk of experimenting with other drugs for a “better” high.
Proactive Anger Management: Handling Anger in Healthy Ways
How someone chooses to cope with anger can be the difference between a healthy and unhealthy lifestyle. Denying anger can cause one to feel frustrated or irritated and affect many parts of their life. A healthy way to cope with this feeling can reduce risks associated with substance use. Ways people can cope with anger in positive healthy ways include:
- Talking with a loved one or professional
- Feel it and release it with assertive communication
- Use humor to ease tension
- Picking up a creative hobby
- Positive distractions
- Self-awareness and knowing what makes you upset
Moreover, unresolved anger can contribute to broken relationships, poor mental performance, and emotional wounds that can lead to substance abuse experimentation. Underlying feelings can cause individuals to experience anger. If you are struggling, reach out to a treatment provider to treat both problems at their core.