Many of us were taught at an early age that anger is a negative emotion and should be suppressed. While there are destructive ways to express one’s anger, it can be a constructive and healthy emotion if managed properly. This basic, natural feeling serves as a warning sign that something is not right in our environment. What’s more, it is considered part of the brain’s fight-or-flight response to a perceived threat.
Anger becomes unhealthy when combined with substance abuse. The addict uses drugs and/or alcohol as a means to suppress the unpleasant feeling; however, the anger is merely exacerbated, resulting in further use of substances to cope. This vicious cycle must be addressed in addiction treatment.
The fact is everyone gets to decide how angry he or she wants to be and how long it is going to last. Anger can be controlled. Because the human body cannot distinguish between a physical and emotional threat, the physiological responses are the same: shallow breathing, high blood pressure, clenching of the jaw, sweating, hot flashes, grinding of the teeth and accelerated heart rate, to name a few. The goal in addiction recovery is to teach the addict or alcoholic to acknowledge these warning signs before exploding.
At MARR in Atlanta, clients acquire new life skills, including how to deal with anger without the use of drugs or alcohol. They learn healthy ways to manage this intense emotion, such as talking it over with another person, exercising, pausing and praying. The anger is confronted and controlled in a positive manner.