Anger and Addiction

Every emotion has an evolutionary purpose, that is meant to promote survival. Emotions are neither good nor bad… it’s how we react to them that’s important.

Anger lets you know that you are being threatened, or that your core needs are not being met. It includes physical responses that help you respond quickly to a threat.

Because of experiences in childhood or in our families, we become hyper-sensitive to perceived threat. In addiction, we learn to react to anger in ways that ultimately increase pain or suffering for us.


What triggers anger?

  • Perceived injustice
  • Authority
  • Fear of not getting what we want, or losing something we have
  • Feeling disrespected
  • Losing control
  • Feeling rejected
  • Being told ‘NO’
  • Anything that reminds us of a trauma or loss

Triggers are most often PROBLEMS OF PERCEPTION, and we need to take responsibility for our perceptions.  NO ONE MAKES US ANGRY.  We are responsible for our own feelings.

How do you usually respond to anger ?

  • Acting out
  • Attacking
  • Cutting off relationships
  • Punishing others
  • Rage
  • Violence
  • Self-harm
  • Using or drinking
  • Resentments


What are consequences of reacting this way?

  • Damaged relationships
  • Health problems
  • Addiction / Relapse
  • Problems with authority
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Shame and guilt


What can we do instead?

  • Use an ABC sheet
  • Mindfulness of the breath and body.
  • Ask “What is my part in this conflict?”
  • Examine your perceptions.  Ask “What past experience does this remind me of?  Who does this person remind me of?”
  • Ask for help from someone else, to get a fresh perspective.  Talk it out before you react and do more damage.



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