Beware of Anger and Resentments
Many people who drink or use drugs come into recovery full of anger and resentments. If they work through the 12 Step Programme, they will address this when they come to Steps 4 and 5 and Steps 8 and 9. They will also address it on a daily basis, by taking an inventory. In this way it is possible to nip new resentments and cause for anger in the bud. In reality, of course, many of us, especially those new and inexperienced in the 12 Step Programme cannot avoid holding on to anger and resentment or attracting new resentments and this is very dangerous. Many people relapse because of this.
Correlation Between Drinking, Anger and Resentments
There is a strong relationship between drinking and anger. I can recall having a drink if I wanted to have the courage to make a difficult telephone call in which I wanted to complain – it gave me the courage to show my feelings. For many, of course, getting drunk means that their anger spills over into violence as typified in drunken brawls. Alcohol can make some people feel more powerful. In some instances, the loss of control brought on through drinking can lead to other violent acts such as rape, domestic violence – or even murder – and I have certainly met at least one person now in recovery who committed murder in a blackout i.e. he had no memory of having done it but had no doubt that he had.
Anger is a natural emotion and we are certainly not recommending that it is bottled up – that is also unhealthy. Nor are we recommending that you let it out in an unmanaged way. What we are suggesting is a way of dealing with it as it is an especially dangerous emotion for alcoholics who can very easily drink on it.
We often avoid admitting that we feel angry and call it something else – frustration, irritation, hatred, intolerance, malice, anxiety, jealousy, mistrust, suspicion etc. Many of these feelings link into our feelings of anger. Sometimes fear can lead to anger and anger to fear.
Resentment which is another form of anger – whether justified or not – is also a dangerous feeling on which we can easily drink.
As noted above, there is a proven effective way of dealing with anger and resentment within the Twelve Step Programme but if you are not familiar with this or have not yet reached those steps then some helpful ways of making sure such feelings do not lead you back to drinking or using are as follows: make sure you do not get hungry – eat something – sweet if necessary. Pick up the phone and talk to someone. Don’t get overtired. Distract yourself with exercise or listening to music, for example.
You can deal with anger by trying to change your frame of mind. For example, resolve to ‘live and let live’. Consider how your situation can be dealt with by referencing the Serenity Prayer: are you angry about things which you cannot change (traffic jams, public transport delays?) – if so, accept it, don’t boil with rage! Try looking at the situation in a calm manner and constructively. Another way to deal with anger is to pretend that it is someone else who has to deal with the situation. How would you advise them to deal with it?
Don’t bottle it up and don’t whatever you do drink on it. Keep calm and do something constructive to deal with it.
The Haynes Clinic is an alcohol and drug rehab clinic which offers detox and counselling for people with addictions. It follows the Twelve Step Programme of recovery. Call 01462 851414 for free and confidential advice.