Understanding Anger and How It Affects Recovery

Home | Understanding Anger and How It Affects Recovery

Are you angry and frustrated all the time? Have your behavior and poor choices made others angry with you?  Anger is a state of feeling frustrated, irritated, or enraged after experiencing negative internal or external triggers. While anger is a natural, necessary emotion that needs to be expressed in healthy ways, it can also be a driving force behind mental health issues and, particularly, substance use disorder (SUD).  

Significant numbers of people with SUD report a noticeable struggle in processing and expressing anger. They find themselves using alcohol or drugs to cope with the intensity or discomfort of anger, unresolved traumas, or ongoing hardships. People even report getting drunk or high to avoid violent outbursts or physical altercations that result when their anger is unleashed.  

There’s also evidence for the indirect power of anger to influence our addictions. When we’re angry, we can become more impulsive and more reckless in our behavior. The expression of anger differs across age, gender, and disposition. However, the physiological symptoms are shared across all groups:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Tightened or tensed muscles
  • Higher production and release of adrenaline; energy outbursts
  • Shallow or quickened breathing
  • Digestive discomfort 
  • Inability to fall asleep or feel tired or drowsy 

These symptoms, when we don’t acknowledge them and work to manage them, can strain relationships, inflame addiction, and compromise our well-being.  

Understanding How and Why Rage Shows Up In Recovery   

By the time you or your loved one arrives at our inpatient recovery program, you may be experiencing overwhelming feelings of anger or rage. Rage is an uncontrolled, unhealthy, often violent or destructive anger that overtakes people and their ability to make good decisions. When anger morphs into rage, it can take a powerfully charged and often physical form:

  • Violent outbursts 
  • Direct attacks on another person or on one’s own body
  • Destruction of property, others or one’s own
  • Harassment of and spiteful behavior toward others

When you constantly express rage in this way, you’re more likely to develop high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and mental illness.  

Why St. Gregory Recovery Center in Iowa Focuses on Treating Anger

Displaying rage in social situations, at the workplace, or in the home can be extremely detrimental. The angry person appears dangerous, uncontrolled, and scary. This alienates them from others, making them even more likely to use substances to cope.  

If you regularly struggle with rage, your time in recovery will often be spent learning how to avoid or manage the situations or people that trigger your anger. Anger must be acknowledged and treated with calming techniques. That’s why some of the best rage-coping techniques focus on decreasing energy rather than increasing it with exercise or aggressive verbal venting. Here are some of the best ways to calm down, self-regulate, and control your rage:

  • Practicing mindfulness or meditation
  • Expressing or tapping into compassion for yourself or the person involved 
  • Forming an insight into the situation at hand
  • Performing calming actions like yoga, stretching, deep breathing, or meditation

When you visit us in either of our two locations in Bayard and Des Moines, IA, you’ll work throughout your cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions to find the best techniques that support your unique journey to sobriety and anger management. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today to learn more about the effects of uncontrolled anger and how to beat it in recovery.

Our graduates tell their stories…

When first arriving at St. Gregory I had mixed feelings about the health and wellness workouts. I came in at 136 lbs and didn’t think it was possible to reach...
- Chris
The good life is not merely a life free from addictions, physical and/or psychological—addictions that usually are the outward manifestations of deeper problems—but a life lived in harmonious balance, free...
- Matt
I came to St. Gregory’s at my all-time worst—physically, emotionally, and mentally. Having gone through a bad rehab experience once before, I had been very reluctant in succumbing to that...
- CJ
No matter where I start my thought process when reflecting upon my time before, during and after St. Gregory’s, I always seem to end up in the same place in...
- Kaele


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