Anger is one of the most common reasons we relapse after a period of sobriety. When overcome with anger, we are much less able to make good decisions, because we are acting out of emotion instead of rational thought. In order to protect my sobriety, I had to take steps to control my anger.
Most people develop anger management strategies in early adulthood, but for those of us who have been drinking or using, we often skip that stage of development. In my case, for example, I started drinking at the age of 15, so I struggled with anger management during early recovery. Here are some steps that I took to make this transitional period easier.
1. Attend Anger Management Classes Anger management classes teach you how to develop the skills you need to gain control over your anger. Some of the things they teach are:
- Think, then Speak – It is easy to say something you may regret in the heat of anger. Give yourself some time to calm down before speaking, and when you do, stick with “I statements”. I statements are a way of phrasing your concerns, such as “I was disappointed when you forgot our anniversary”, instead of “You never remember our anniversary”.
- Be Non-Confrontational – After you calm down, it is okay to be assertive, but make sure you state your needs and concerns directly and clearly. Do not try to hurt or control the other person.
- Exercise – Physical activity reduces stress. Tell the other person you need to calm down and go out for a brisk walk or a run or any other physical activity you enjoy.
- Give Yourself a Time-Out – If you are in a stressful situation, give yourself a short break from the activity. A few minutes of quiet time gives you a chance to prepare for how you will handle this particular stress.
- Learn to Forgive – Did you know that forgiveness is more for you than the other person? When you forgive, it releases any feelings of injustice or bitterness, and your anger dissipates.
2. Have a Plan When we are angry, it is very difficult to think rationally. Having a plan in place means you will have a list of possible actions you can take to defuse the situation. In addition to taking a walk or a time-out, you can also call your sponsor, your therapist, or a close friend or family member.
3. Learn from Others in Recovery Most people in recovery have had to learn how not to let their anger control their actions. Talking to someone who has already been through it, can give you new ideas and strategies for learning to cope effectively with your anger.
4. Never Take Action out of Anger If drinking or using feels like a viable solution, give yourself time to calm down before acting on that thought. Buy yourself some time so you can decide whether that is the course of action you really want to take. Once the anger passes, you will be relieved that you didn’t make the wrong choice.
5. Meditate Meditation makes it much easier to deal with your emotions. Instead of resisting your emotions, watch them pass by in your mind. If you find it difficult to meditate while you are angry, just concentrate on your breathing until you calm down. Substance abuse can fill you with resentment due to all of the things you lost during your addiction. If you are in early recovery, one slip can put you right back where you started. Controlling your anger safeguards all the progress you have made. The Oceanfront Recovery Addiction Treatment Program can help you or your loved one through the process of recovery from addiction to any substance. Our clinicians focus on bringing the underlying causes of addiction to the surface with a modern and effective recovery program in a beautiful beachfront setting. Contact Oceanfront Recovery today for a confidential assessment, and begin the journey of recovery today.