Why You’re Feeling Angry as You Recover from Addiction

A journey of recovery and healing always brings about big changes in our lives, both internally and externally. One of the many changes people find within themselves is that now they are getting more angry. 

If you thought you would be getting less angry as you heal and leave addiction behind, you might be surprised and quite confused by this!

This is normal – allow me to explain.

Why Am I Angry?

A life of addiction is also a life of repression in how we feel. 

When we repress our emotions, they don’t go away. And when there is enough support in our lives for us to finally slow down, these emotions resurface – ready to be processed and integrated with the rest of us. 

Experiencing anger could even be a sign that you are beginning to feel more. Addiction numbs us and this numbness begins to dissolve as we heal and recover. 

Instead of feeling numb, you might feel unusually sensitive and vulnerable. Old pain and wounds that you thought were gone might resurface, ready to be felt once again.

This is all great news! Feeling is healing. 

Reactive Anger vs. Healthy Anger 

You might find yourself feeling reactive in ways that you don’t recognize, hurting people with your words and actions. This is a time to be humble and generous with your apologies when you recognize that you have hurt somebody. 

Understanding the difference between reactive anger (which becomes aggression) and healthy anger can help you greatly in understanding yourself. 

Reactivity is a knee-jerk reaction that often hurts, or at least confuses, those around us. While anger is an emotion like any other, reactivity is something that we are doing with our anger. 

When we are being reactive, we weaponize our anger.

angry man

What is Anger?

Keep in mind that anger alone is not reactivity. Anger is simply an emotion just like fear, sadness, and joy. What we are doing with our anger matters much more than whether or not we are feeling angry! 

When we handle our anger in a truly healthy way, we are also in touch with the vulnerability of our anger. Anger means what’s happening to us matters, otherwise, we simply wouldn’t care. 

Anger can be very fiery and passionate, yes, but notice also the depth and sensitivity in your anger. Notice what matters to you about the situation you’re bothered/concerned about. 

Is It OK to Express Myself When I’m Angry?

Sometimes it is completely appropriate to express our anger. Notice the care in your anger and don’t lose your connection with that as you express yourself as clearly and fully as you can. 

Some things are better said than not. And don’t try to be perfect in your expression. This only creates unnecessary pressure and often paralyzes us. 

If you mess up a bit in your expression, own it and apologize from your heart if you’ve hurt someone. Repairing trust and connection within relationships is just as important as speaking honestly.

Practicing Healthy Expression of Anger

Expressing anger through honest communication (not aggression) helps to release intense feelings boiling to the surface. But sometimes we aren’t in the right headspace or the moment isn’t appropriate. At these times, finding alternative methods to express anger might look like:

  • Going for a run or doing an intense workout
  • Journaling your thoughts and feelings
  • Changing your surroundings by going for a walk or drive
man going for walk after feeling angry

As you practice more and more with the healthy ways anger can be expressed, you might find yourself feeling very empowered and feeling open and connected to your heart at the same time. 

When we feel both empowered and truly connected within, our relationships become even more fulfilling. Safety and trust deepen along with true respect and genuine love.  

Discover Recovery Tools at Sunshine Coast Health Centre

At Sunshine Coast Health Centre, our team of professionals is ready to help you through difficult feelings that come up as you start your recovery journey. Through counselling, workshops, and group therapy, we aim to help clients understand their emotions while discovering meaning and purpose. Visit our website to learn more about our program or give us a call.

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