Anger and Alcoholism: What You Don’t Know, But Should
While many people use alcohol as a way to unwind and relax after a tough day, or as a way to get together with friends and enjoy a night out, not everyone is a “happy drunk”. Many people find that when they drink or drink too much, they get upset, angry, or even violent. While it might get laughed off as a funny story the connection between anger and alcoholism is real and it can be quite scary.
Studies have shown that in a majority of domestic violence and violent crimes, alcohol was the most common cause. Why is there such a significant connection between addiction and anger? In this blog, we will take a look at the connection between the two as well as discuss ways that you or a loved one can get help for both.
What Is The Connection Between Anger and Addiction?
Before discussing the connection between anger and alcohol, it’s important to understand their relationship as a whole. Many people who find themselves suffering from addiction didn’t just get there overnight, for most it was a slow build that probably started innocent enough with a drink or two here and there or the occasional taking of a pill or other substance to make them feel better.
Many people turn to drugs or alcohol because they aren’t sure or comfortable with emotions they are feeling, such as anger, and instead of talking to someone about it, they turn to those substances to help numb the proverbial pain.
As humans, if we don’t address or release our anger healthily it can create a ticking timebomb internally that will eventually need to be released. Since substances of abuse tend to lower inhibitions and reduce impulse control, that anger can be released in an unhealthy and potentially even dangerous manner when someone has had too much to drink or is under the influence of another substance of abuse.
Why Does Alcohol, In Particular, Make People Angrier Than Other Substances?
As we mentioned in the introduction, studies have shown that alcohol has been the contributing factor to more violent acts than any other substance of abuse, but why exactly is that? Well, according to some scientists this answer can be chalked up to something known as Alcohol Myopia Theory. This theory states that alcohol decreases a person’s ability to focus, causing them to only hear and notice certain things. This can lead to misunderstandings or misinterpretations which can lead to increased anger and frustration.
Additionally, when people drink they tend to struggle with emotions. This isn’t only limited to their own emotions either. When under the influence of alcohol, many people struggle to comprehend and properly identify the emotions of those who are around them as well. This can also lead to feelings of frustration and anger.
Then there is the overall mental health component. People who struggle with their mental health often turn to alcohol as a way of heeling. While it might work in the beginning, drinking, especially in access can make matters worse. Drinking can ain mental health conditions harder to manage. Over time, alcohol also changes the brain chemistry which can lead to even more mental health problems which, in turn, can lead to the person needing to drink more and more to deal with it all.
What Are Some of the Common Signs of Anger As It Relates To Alcoholism?
Alcohol is used to suppress many different emotions that a person either doesn’t want to deal with or doesn’t know how to deal with, including anger. When someone doesn’t express or healthily deal with anger it manifests and boils up within.
After a few drinks, this anger can manifest itself in not just an unhealthy way, but also a dangerous one. If you fear that a loved one might be dealing with an alcohol-related issue in large part due to the way that they behave when drinking, here are some of the common ways in which they may behave if they are suffering from an alcohol-related issue:
- Threatening violence
- Behaving violently (physical aggression)
- Being emotionally manipulative to others such as giving the “silent treatment” or shutting someone out emotionally
- Seeking vengeance either just by thinking about it or acting on it
- Continuing to avoid dealing with their emotions or issues at all costs by continuing to drink
- Breaking things or displaying destructive tendencies
If you or someone you know find yourself displaying these tendencies after drinking or while drinking, it is likely a sign that you are suffering anger issues as a result of alcohol and should seek help.
What Are Some Healthy Ways To Deal With Anger and Alcoholism?
For those who find themselves getting angry when they drink, there are healthy ways that you can deal with your anger and emotions without having to turn to alcohol. Best of all, some of these ways are things you can do throughout the day without having to make major changes to your daily life.
For those who find themselves dealing with a lot of pent-up anger or stress, exercising is a great, healthy way to work through some of those problems. When people exercise the body releases endorphins which are known as the feel-good hormones. These endorphins can lift a person’s mood and make them feel better and less stressed or angry. Plus, as a bonus, exercising will help keep you in shape and healthier overall in addition to helping with stress and anger.
Yoga and Meditation
Another great way to work through your anger while becoming one with yourself and your body is through yoga and meditation. Doing something as simple as sitting with your eyes closed and allowing yourself to become one with your thoughts can be a great way to understand and process your feelings. The great thing about meditation is that it can be done anywhere at any time. You can do it at your desk at work or while you are stopped at a red light. The key to meditating is to understand what is causing your anger and try to forget about it and move past it.
If exercise or mediation isn’t your thing, you might want to consider working through your anger in a written way. Journaling can be a great way to work through your anger and also better understand what is causing all that anger by writing down things that might have bothered you during the day or even just writing out what you did that day. You can even write out ways that you might be able to better handle yourself in the future should you find yourself in a similar situation that made you angry.
Is Treatment An Option?
If those methods don’t work, or if you feel that you need to take things one step further to deal with your anger and alcohol issues, addiction treatment is another great option aside from anger management. If you choose the treatment option, it is important to remember that before treatment can begin you will need to detox to rid your body of all harmful substances, including alcohol.
Detoxing should be done under the care and supervision of trained medical professionals and can be done at either a local medical facility, a dedicated detox center, or a treatment center that also offers medical detox services. Attempting to self-detox can be dangerous and even life-threatening.
Once detox has been completed then treatment can begin. For those who are suffering from alcoholism and anger psychotherapy might be the best option. This type of therapy focuses on learning how a person’s anger and alcoholism started and reprograms the brain so it no longer thinks that it needs alcohol to deal with anger and other emotions. It also teaches the person more healthy ways to deal with their anger moving forward such as exercise, journaling, and other ways that we discussed earlier.
Want To Know More About Anger and Alcoholism?
When someone regularly finds themselves getting angry or aggressive either while or after drinking, it can be an indication that they might be suffering from alcoholism or alcohol addiction. At Little Creek recovery we offer treatment programs for those suffering from alcoholism. In addition to our traditional methods, we also offer more unique therapy options including:
If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction and could benefit from our wide variety of treatment programs and therapy options, contact us today. We want everyone that comes to us to leave and go on to live a happy, healthy, and sober life.