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Tick, Tick, Boom: Unmanaged Anger and Relapse

I was on Facebook the other day and I realized something – certain people on my friend list had mysteriously gone MIA. Now, granted, my Facebook is a little different than most, as I have many friends from my time in prison. But my missing friends all had one common denominator: a higher-than-normal level of anger.

While behind bars, these friends were always involved in altercations and violent outbursts. I looked into their whereabouts and sure enough, there was a reason I hadn’t heard from them: They had all relapsed, were back in prison or both.

Time Adds Up

Anger works as a trigger for quick drug and alcohol abuseAnger is a highly destructive emotion and one of the biggest relapse triggers. Often times, the underlying issue isn’t properly dealt with and we turn to drugs and alcohol as a quick fix.

Unfortunately, these substances only mask difficult emotions, not permanently eradicate them. They make the situation worse, as we find ways to justify our feelings and blame others for our inner turmoil. The anger, then, continues to build up over time until we snap. At this point, we’re unable to think rationally and at risk of relapse.

Disarm the Anger Bomb

So, how can we release those pent up frustrations and avoid a major meltdown? Before you enroll in that anger management class, give these tips a try:

  • Get some exercise
  • Go to a meeting
  • Talk to a professional
  • Practice forgiveness
  • Breathe…just breathe

Living in the past creates unhealthy stress and can quickly set a relapse in motion. Because we aren’t used to handling powerful emotions, we are easily tempted to return to old habits. By taking action, we stop looking in the rear-view mirror and move forward into a new way of thinking. This isn’t only beneficial for our personal growth, but vital for success in recovery.
Additional Reading:   Clean, Sober and Totally Pissed Off: A Bad Trifecta

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