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Anger is a normal part of the human experience. However, it can be harmful and destructive if you cannot control your anger.
Alcohol makes it more difficult to control anger and other emotions. That's because it reduces an individual's self control and internal inhibition.
Control of emotions isn’t the only link between alcohol and anger. For some people, anger is a coping mechanism. They feel anger to avoid other more challenging emotions and behaviors. Instead of being a natural emotion, someone with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) will express anger to avoid dealing with unpleasant or adverse circumstances, including the addiction itself.
Anger and alcoholism work together in a cycle. Drinking helps someone escape their negative emotion of anger and feeling angry lets them avoid the fact that drinking has become a problem. The two feed off one another and, if left unchecked, are dangerous to their health and well-being.
Research suggests that AA attendance alone may be insufficient to alleviate the suffering and alcohol-related risks associated with anger. While AA can be helpful in overcoming alcohol-related anger, it also depends on the individual and the treatment path they decide to take.NCBI
The cause of alcohol-related anger varies from person to person. Alcohol triggers anger in some people. In others, the anger is there before they drink. Reflecting on what came first for you is an important part of recovery.
In some cases, a person doesn’t realize they are angry or that they have an underlying issue with anger.
They might assume their anger is triggered by drinking alcohol and that if they got their addiction under control, their anger would subside. Unfortunately, if that’s not the case, they’ll fail to deal with the root cause of the problem. And for many, the underlying anger that was yet to be identified is what triggers relapse.
It’s also important to recognize the role your environment plays in anger.
Some of the most common environmental issues that trigger anger include:
Like alcohol, anger issues tend to be more common for people who came from families in which anger was a problem. Many health experts agree that there is a genetic component that involves how the brain reacts to serotonin that affects how people deal with anger.
When someone has both a mental health and substance use disorder, they are considered co-occurring disorders. In these cases, the person has a dual diagnosis. If anger is a symptom of someone's mental health disorder, alcohol can intensify the anger to dangerous levels.
The following behavioral disorders should be treated with anger management and also have a high rate of co-occurrence with alcoholism:
People with co-occurring disorders should receive specialized treatment. The treatment should target both the mental health and substance use disorder as two parts of a whole. Read more about co-occurring disorders and alcoholism.
Separately, anger and alcohol abuse both create risk. Combined, the risk is even greater. For example, alcohol-related anger:
Domestic violence is a very dangerous potential result of alcohol abuse. A 2017 study showed that men under the influence of alcohol had higher rates of physical and sexual aggression.
This occurs in long-term relationships such as marriage, as well as all dating scenarios. If your partner shows intense feelings of anger and a lack of self-control when drinking, reach out for help. It could escalate to physical violence.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides confidential assistance from trained advocates. Call 1-800-799-7233 if you or someone you know could be in danger of abuse.
Anyone can feel anger when they are drunk or sober. However, some people are more likely than others to be angry when they are drinking alcohol. Many people believe that substance abuse and alcohol consumption triggers aggressive behavior.
Studies show that people who abuse alcohol are more likely to be abusive to their family members, including children. Children who grow up around domestic violence are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as teens and adults. This creates a cycle of alcohol use and violence.
There is also a theory that the disinhibition that alcohol creates raises the risk of violent behavior. Heavy drinkers are more likely to engage in risky behavior, which includes being violent and acting out hostile emotions, often against a loved one.
Additionally, there is evidence that chemical and biological factors play a role. People with higher levels of testosterone are more likely to be aggressive. That likelihood increases when they consume alcohol.
Another study found that people who focus on the present moment tend to be angrier alcoholics. People who live in the moment don’t consider the consequences of their actions. They’ll act on their emotion of anger without regard to what their actions could lead to.
Ultimately, nobody knows what comes first, anger or alcohol use disorder (AUD). Chances are the answer varies from person to person.
The most effective way to cope with alcohol-induced anger is to avoid consuming too much alcohol. Some people need to avoid drinking alcohol entirely.
Even if you are not willing to give up alcohol, it’s important to reflect on your feelings and how they change when you drink. Understanding your emotions and making smart decisions about alcohol consumption is the best way to avoid problems.
Self-awareness is important for everyone’s mental health but it is especially necessary for people with AUD and anger issues.
Recognizing your emotional state and making smart choices about substances reduces the risk of alcohol-induced violence.
There are several treatment program options available for people struggling with anger issues and addiction. For example:
Anger management therapy is one of the best options available for helping you understand your emotions and find effective ways to cope with them. Working with a therapist trained in dealing with anger problems helps you gain important anger management skills such as:
There are many treatment options available for alcohol use disorder (AUD) and addiction, including:
Inpatient treatment takes place at a licensed residential treatment center.
These programs provide 24/7 comprehensive, structured care. You'll live in safe, substance-free housing and have access to professional medical monitoring.
The first step of an inpatient program is detoxification. Then behavioral therapy and other services are introduced. These programs typically last 30, 60, or 90 days, sometimes longer.
Most programs help set up your aftercare once you complete the inpatient portion of your treatment.
Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) provide similar services to inpatient programs.
Services include medical care, behavioral therapy, and support groups, along with other customized therapies.
However, in a PHP program, you return home to sleep. Some services provide food and transportation, but services vary by program.
PHPs accept new patients as well as people who have completed an inpatient program and require additional intensive treatment.
Outpatient treatment is less intensive than inpatient treatment or partial hospitalization programs.
These programs organize your treatment session based on your schedule. The goal of outpatient treatment is to provide therapy, education, and support in a flexible environment.
They are best for people who have a high motivation to recover and cannot leave their responsibilities at home, work, or school. Outpatient programs are often part of aftercare programs once you complete an inpatient or PHP program.
It is important for people undergoing treatment to have a stable and supportive home environment. If family members/roommates drink or use drugs in the home environment, it will be extremely difficult for the person to maintain abstinence when they return home after treatment. It is extremely difficult to undergo successful outpatient therapy if you are living in a home environment with ready access to drugs and alcohol.
Sometimes medications may be used in alcohol addiction treatment.
Some medicines can help reduce the negative side effects of detoxification and withdrawal.
When combined with other evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), MAT can help prevent relapse and increase your chance of recovery.
They are peer-led organizations dedicated to helping each other remain sober. Support groups can be the first step towards recovery or part of a long-term aftercare plan.
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