Renaissance Ranch

Why Is Healthy Anger Management Necessary for Lasting Sobriety?

Jun 25, 2024

In addiction recovery, there are a plethora of situations and circumstances that can make an individual vulnerable to relapse. To sustain lasting sobriety, each person must implement coping strategies for navigating triggers and challenging emotions effectively. For example, many individuals may be quick to anger when stressed. Without having proper knowledge and implementation of healthy anger management techniques, such individuals may not only turn to alcohol and other drugs to cope but also inflict violent harm to themselves or others in the process. Thus, learning more about healthy anger management can be extremely valuable to lasting recovery and sobriety.

At Renaissance Ranch, we are committed to helping our clients gain essential skills to foster effective emotion regulation throughout treatment and recovery. Anger management is one type of therapy approach that we utilize in treatment that specifically assists clients in improving both coping and communication skills. Alongside strengthening anger management skills, clients at our facility will engage in a variety of modalities to help foster effective symptom management and increased quality of life in recovery. 

The Nature of Anger

Contrary to what some may believe, anger is as natural a human emotion as sadness, happiness, and fear. Yet, many consider anger to be both negative and unhealthy. Oftentimes, this is because of how the emotion of anger is being portrayed or released. For instance, many people associate anger with violence and rage. This is because when anger is left unmanaged, it can be projected onto people and things. 

There are many different reasons why an individual may feel angry. For example, it is common to feel angry after being treated poorly by others. On the other hand, some individuals may be more quick to anger as a result of mental health conditions, withdrawals from alcohol and other drug use, or merely experiencing inner struggle. 

Furthermore, as explained by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), anger and trauma – specifically post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – often go hand-in-hand. Post-traumatic anger can be identified in three distinct ways:

  • Arousal: Anger is marked by increased activity in the central nervous system (CNS), which often surfaces as increased muscle tension. Those with PTSD experience higher levels of tension and arousal, which can become their normal state.
  • Behavior: Many survivors of trauma protect themselves from extreme threats by acting aggressively and impulsively. For those with PTSD, these behavioral responses can become normalized throughout adulthood when faced with perceived threats. 
  • Thoughts and beliefs: As explained by the VA, “After trauma, a person with PTSD may think or believe that threat is all around, even when this is not true. He or she may not be fully aware of these thoughts and beliefs.” These dysfunctional beliefs can further perpetuate continued anger in daily life.

Additional Consequences of Unmanaged Anger

As mentioned previously, unmanaged anger can be unintentionally projected onto people and things, increasing the risk of violence in daily life. Yet, this is not the only consequence of unmanaged anger. For instance, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “[Anger] has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, trouble sleeping, problems with digestion, headaches, depression, and anxiety.” 

Another potential consequence of unmanaged anger is increased risk-taking behavior. This includes turning to alcohol and other drug use in an attempt to self-medicate. Not only can anger be a cause of substance abuse and substance use disorder (SUD) but it can also be a consequence. As an individual engages in repeated cycles of substance abuse, they are more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms that increase in severity, which can inform more intense mood swings as well as continued substance abuse. 

Regardless of the situation or circumstances that trigger feelings of anger, it is essential to know where to redirect anger and how to cope with it. This is where anger management training can be especially helpful. 

The Role of Anger Management for Long-Term Sobriety

When an individual is seeking recovery from addiction and other mental health conditions, effectively implementing strategies for managing anger is essential. This is because feelings of anger can be a trigger for relapse throughout long-term recovery. Even if an individual does not feel like anger has played a role in their past substance use, it can most certainly hinder long-term recovery if it is not properly addressed in treatment. 

Examples of Effective Strategies for Anger Management in Recovery

There are many different ways that individuals can healthily cope with anger in addiction recovery. It is important not to resist feelings of anger, as this can cause them to bottle up and eventually explode. Rather, implementing the following strategies when anger is present can be especially valuable:

  • Increasing awareness of anger triggers
  • Walking away, or taking a break, when conflicts start to get heated
  • Using forgiveness whenever possible
  • Redirecting anger to physical exercise, such as going for a run or taking a kickboxing class 
  • Practicing relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness meditation or deep breathing, to gain back control of emotions
  • Identifying negative and hostile thoughts and replacing them with healthier thoughts
  • Engaging in creative modalities, like art or dance, to express feelings of anger healthily

Meanwhile, at Renaissance Ranch, we work with our clients to develop individualized solutions for anger management and other forms of emotional regulation. No matter what an individual may be struggling with, we have the tools and professional support that they need to establish and sustain lasting sobriety from addiction as well as any problematic emotions that could interfere with their continued recovery. 

Although anger is a natural human emotion, lacking the knowledge of healthy anger management skills can be harmful. On the one hand, anger can trigger violence and be inappropriately directed toward people and things. Additionally, because anger can be uncomfortable, unmanaged anger can also make individuals more vulnerable to using alcohol and other drugs to self-medicate. In recovery, unmanaged anger can also increase the risk of relapse and interfere with the healing process. Fortunately, at Renaissance Ranch, clients will work with professionals to identify and implement a wide range of anger management strategies into their daily lives. Ultimately, this will contribute to long-lasting sobriety. Learn more about our treatment programs for men by calling (801) 308-8898 today.