Anger is one of the many pitfalls we, as sober persons, fall prey to on a repeated basis. Feelings of anger, although a common emotion are more challenging to recovering alcoholics and addicts than to others who are not addicted. In many of us, it is the direct road to relapse if we don’t catch it in time, and it’s not just to a new-comer either. Old-timers can fall prey to mismanaged anger and relapse and just as easily find themselves in an alcohol and drug detox.
But what are the signs of anger? We all have different ways of expressing this emotion, so it’s vital to pinpoint what type of angry person you are: physical, like in headaches, back aches, pains, compulsive eating, or sex; mental, like denial or rationalization about your behavior, revenge fantasies, or thoughts about drinking or using drugs; vocal, like rapid speech, yelling and screaming, sarcasm or cynicism, or arguing with others; or something else like becoming silent or withholding, avoidance, isolation, or even becoming violent.
The next part of this process of anger management is to identify what is the situation that’s creating this emotion? Is it someone in particular that just knows how to push your buttons? What other feeling are experienced when you feel anger? Is it fear? Is there something in your life that’s creating a great deal of stress? Are you hungry? Tired? Lonely?
Once you’ve established what type angry person you are and who, what, where, when and why, you’ll need to decide on the best way to react. You might want to try and change your thought pattern or how you respond by changing what you say to the person with whom you are angry. Instead of saying “I’m pissed off at you…” you might want to try a different approach. “Look, this is really unfortunate, but I don’t want to be angry over this.” You might want to do something physical to work the anger out if you don’t have an outlet. Walk, swim, dance, and exercise your large muscle groups, i.e.: legs, arms, or chest.
If you do need to talk to the person involved, you’ll need to do it directly, and you’ll need to use a calm, assertive tone in your voice, but you’ll also need to know when to be quiet and just listen. If there is anything we’ve learned over time, everyone has their own story, their own perception. They might not even know they upset you. There are sometimes it is very hard to speak directly to the person involved, so you might need the use of a third party; a friend, a relative, a therapist.
The most important part you’ll need to remember as a recovery alcoholic and/or drug addict is that you need avoid artificial stimulants like nicotine, caffeine, drugs and alcohol. You’ll be much quicker to displace your anger on to someone.
It’s imperative to express yourself, but it is not important to rant and rave at the person. If you want to rant a rave, go to a mountain top, go to an empty beach and just yell all you want until you can’t any more. If you’re with a person, take the time to be respectful. Don’t escalate, blame, name call, and even stomping out the door. There are constructive ways to leave the argument. Excuse yourself without blaming the other person. “I’m leaving because you’re making me mad,” is a way of blaming someone else. Try saying something like, “I am afraid I’m going to say something that I will regret later, so please excuse me. I’m just going to take a walk to calm myself down and we can talk in an hour.”
There are ways to help prevent and prepare for anger, but you’ll need to allow yourself room for mistakes and room for self-praises when you change your behavior. If you keep a journal, great, if not, you might want to try it. Write down the work you do with your anger. What are you triggers? But, it doesn’t really end there. Pay attention to the foods you eat. Eating fast food and other bad foods like that only lead to unbalanced nervous and physical systems. The decision is yours, as you need to find what works best for you.
If you need further help, bring it to your recovery group, or look for professional help.
Recovery Rob is a 47-year-old man who has more than eighteen years of sobriety, whose drugs of choice at one time were alcohol and drugs, and he has worked in and around the field of addiction for more than 20 years. Recovery Rob is a professional writer who has published two novels and is currently working on his third. He has been writing and working as Pat Moore Foundation’s premiere blogger and content writer, which helps keeps Pat Moore Foundation’s addiction and recovery blog top-rated.