Addiction is a devastating mental health disease. It is characterised as not having control over the use of a substance or the participation in an activity, to the point where its continued, and/or excessive use, is harmful for you – and those around you.
Most people associate addiction with drugs, alcohol, or gambling – but it is possible to be addicted to anything. Sex, shopping, video games and social media are all ordinary behaviours that can turn into compulsions. Being addicted to something means to do it continually and obsessively because it makes you feel rewarded or happy, despite there being adverse emotional, physical, or financial consequences by doing so.
Most individuals struggling with addiction have trouble processing their emotions. They have difficulty managing difficult or intense feelings, and often experience mood-swings, irritability, and discontentment. Both negative and positive emotions have an influence on the way a person acts and behaves. Addicts wrestle with highs and lows, they use a substance, or participate in compulsive behaviour as a reaction to how they feel, or what is happening in their life; often being unable to deal with responsibilities and relationships.
Anger is an emotion habitually associated with substance abuse, and it is intrinsically linked to addiction. Fury, resentment, and hatred (types of anger) are all triggered by a deep instinctual drive to protect oneself or are tied to feelings of fear and pain. Some addicts will use drugs and alcohol to try and manage their anger; and with others, the use will lead them to become enraged or to increase their wrath.
There are addicts who use substances to blot out the memories of traumatic events, and past experiences of anger or violence. Others will try to suppress their anger or have extreme feelings of hostility towards themselves. This can result in mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, self-harm, and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness – which in turn can lead to self-medicating with substances and behaviours.
Evidence suggests that alcohol or drug use is involved in 40-60% of domestic abuse situations. Whilst domestic abuse is often not actually about anger, but more about control, reports show that the perpetrator of a verbal or physical attack is frequently revealed to be under the influence of a drug, or in an alcoholic rage. On the other side, the victims of domestic violence, either physical, mental, or sexual abuse, regularly turn to the use of substances as a coping mechanism.
The surrounding emotions and the act of anger itself can also become addictive. In the same way that a thrill is got from an adrenaline rush; some individuals get the same effect from anger and become addicted to the endorphin high they get when they are angry. As with any high the feeling wears off and the individual then searches for something to replace the negative, anxious feelings a burst of fury has left behind. Once the substance has gone, or is removed, the anger will once again return – thus leading them into a vicious cycle of anger and drug or alcohol abuse.
Anger is a powerful, yet normal, human emotion, which everyone will feel at some point, and when processed healthily, can be a reasonable response to an unjust or unfair situation. It is a natural reaction to people, places, or events that we find irritating, threatening, disrespectful, or hurtful. Unfortunately, most addicts are unable to process their wrath constructively without help and guidance.
As well as playing a huge part in addiction, living with unresolved anger can cause deep emotional pain; influence mental performance; and manifest in physical symptoms such as unexplained aches and pains, or gastrointestinal problems. It can result in unhappy or broken relationships with family and loved ones and make it difficult to hold down a job or progress at work.
Any treatment for substance abuse problems, alcoholism, or addiction (drug and process), will involve dealing with past, buried, or unresolved anger. It will include learning healthy ways to manage frustrations or resentments going forward.
How someone copes with their negative reactions, from mild irritations through to rage, can be the difference between leading a happy, healthy, addiction-free life, and one full of struggles and constant relapse.
Treatment methods such as anger management, group therapy, individual counselling and studying relaxation, mindfulness and meditation practices have all proved effective in the treatment of addiction, anger and other mental health conditions, and a good rehab center will have all these on their wellness and recovery programs.
Anger is a common trigger in many relapses, so understanding how to manage and deal with it, is a vital tool in keeping a successful recovery on track.
Addiction is a disease that requires treatment, without which things almost never get any better, they only get worse. There is help available, and residential rehab is a good choice for anyone struggling with mental health issues.
With addiction rehab centers throughout Spain and the rest of Europe, travelling for addiction treatment is becoming very popular. And for a good reason – removing an addict from the environment that they used or drank in, with space to rest, recuperate and recover, in the sunshine, is an excellent way to detox both the body and the mind. To be able to clear up some of the emotional wreckage of the past and get a new perspective before starting afresh, clean and sober.
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