Anger Management: Is it a Necessary Component of Addiction Treatment?

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Calendar icon Last Updated: 06/8/2021

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According to a study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “Anger management groups are widely used in drug treatment programs.” Sometimes, a person’s drug abuse is a result of their feelings of anger and their inability to express it safely or appropriately; in other cases, individuals experience issues with anger, hostility, and violent outbursts because of their drug abuse. While this is a widely used method in the treatment programs of many addicted individuals, it is not mandatory for every person. But is it a necessary component of addiction treatment?

Anger Management & Treatment

Addiction Treatment

If you have a strong temper, you may need anger management during addiction treatment.

Many individuals require anger management help and benefit from it during addiction treatment. For instance, individuals who are in prison and also working through issues associated with substance abuse are often in need of anger management therapy. The treatment is “especially helpful for inmates who are either passive and nonassertive or express anger in an explosive fashion.” With the treatment, these individuals can learn to deal with their anger in a way that doesn’t lead to violent or dangerous actions and, in addition, be much less likely to abuse drugs as a result.

Anger management as part of addiction treatment is not just for incarcerated patients, however. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, “Anger is a very common problem in families that have survived a trauma,” which is an issue that can also factor heavily into causing an addiction. Individuals who have dealt with trauma and addiction may need help learning to open up about their feelings in healthier ways or channeling them toward a healthier activity that does not involve substance abuse or other addictive behaviors.

In addition, some individuals abuse drugs that cause feelings of hostility and violent behavior, as certain substances can change the brain in this way. Drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine, and prescription stimulants, when abused, can cause a person to become very hostile and more prone to outbursts. In this case, anger management is extremely necessary to helping the person relearn appropriate ways to let out their anger and act on their feelings.

Anger management can be used as a component of addiction treatment for many reasons, but is it a necessary component of treatment that should be involved in every individual’s program?

Is Anger Management Always Necessary?

In many instances, anger management is necessary for someone to fully recover from addiction. In fact, an individual who went through treatment at the Goodman Addiction Treatment Unit while in the South Carolina Department of Corrections stated, “The anger management groups really helped a lot. I could identify what was being taught and it helped me learn how to manage my own anger.” But this treatment isn’t always necessary for every individual.

Many people have trouble expressing their anger healthily, or at all, and the populations with these issues are often likely to overlap with the populations who suffer from addiction. But this does not mean that every individual should go through anger management therapy as a part of their addiction treatment. Some people require different focuses, like that of cognitive behavioral therapy for depression and other mental illnesses co-occurring with their addictions or family therapy that will help heal the painful problems that have occurred in a patient’s family unit based on their substance abuse.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “No single treatment is appropriate for everyone.” While anger management is necessary for certain individuals going through addiction treatment, it may not be necessary for others. The key is knowing which individuals the treatment is necessary for and finding a rehab program that includes anger management when it is vital to the individual’s recovery.

Do I Need Anger Management?

Though it might not be a necessary component for every individual’s addiction treatment program, it may be imperative for yours. Ask yourself the questions below and find out whether you may need anger management as part of your addiction treatment program.

  • Do I feel that I have a strong temper?
  • Do I keep my frustrations bottled up and let them out at inappropriate times?
  • Would my friends or family members describe me as being temperamental?
  • Has anyone ever been afraid of me because of my temper?
  • Do little things, like waiting in line or waiting for a server at a restaurant, make me very annoyed?
  • Do I have trouble forgiving someone after they have hurt me?
  • Do I think often about bad things that people have done to me in the past and become very upset, even years after they happened?
  • Do I ever feel very bad about myself after I argue with someone?
  • Do I get depressed or upset often when things don’t go my way?
  • Have I ever considered suicide?
  • Do I sometimes get physically weak or sick to my stomach because of feelings of anger?
  • Have I been abusing drugs that have caused me to be much more quick-tempered than I used to be?
  • Have the drugs I started taking caused my once smaller feelings to become amplified?
  • Do I use drugs, or other dangerous behaviors, to cover up feelings of sadness or anger?
  • Have I ever hurt someone while under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
  • Do I feel like, when I become angry, I am not in control of myself?

If you answered yes to many of the questions above, you should consider finding a treatment program that includes anger management therapy. This method is likely necessary to your overall recovery because issues of anger and the inability to deal with the emotion properly will continue after your treatment if it is not addressed and may possibly cause you to relapse back to drug abuse. Anger management can change your life, along with other types of addiction treatment, if you notice that your feelings of anger and the way you express it are contributing to your unhappiness and your addictive behaviors.