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How Substance Abuse Can Lead to Anger and Aggression

While anger is a natural and healthy emotion to express, too much of it can be a bad thing. Unfortunately, many things exacerbate anger and aggression, such as substance abuse. And anger and aggression are very common, with 84% of Americans in agreement that people, including themselves, are angrier than a generation ago. This can potentially cause some social and relationship issues. Additionally, people are turning to poorer coping mechanisms, like substance abuse, due to mounting stress.

Substance Abuse Accelerates Aggression

Substance abuse is defined as using any drug – recreational or prescribed – differently from its original purpose. One of the most commonly abused drugs is alcohol, a downer that dampens emotions since people rarely follow the appropriate number of beverages that should be consumed per hour. Alcohol is considered a depressant; it suppresses physical and emotional pain. Other substances like morphine and codeine trigger happy and pleasure hormones, particularly dopamine. When one repeatedly turns to these substances to feel better when they are mad, it creates a habit of abuse that's difficult to break.

Many substances may provide feelings of relief, but they can also impair judgment and self-control, making it difficult to regulate one’s emotions. This may accelerate the anger one has and magnify it through outbursts and aggression. Stimulant drugs like cocaine give you plenty of energy and even psychosis, inhibiting rationality and mood management. People take substances to medicate their emotions and trauma, ultimately and unknowingly worsening their conditions in the process.

What to Do When Faced with Anger Issues instead of substances

Breaking the pattern of angry outbursts, aggression, and substance abuse can be difficult. However, there are a few ways that one can address anger and aggression issues more effectively than using a substance.

Journaling or Meditation

Anger is often hard to manage for people battling substance abuse because of the substance accelerant and the knee-jerk reaction to unfavorable stimuli. We need to remember that anger is a normal response we are born with but have learned negative responses to it; it happens when people are threatened, afraid, hurt, and feeling helpless. Managing anger first is essential to prevent disruptive and destructive behavior, especially for those with unhealthy relationships with substances.

Activities like journaling or meditation can help tremendously by training the mind to be more self-aware. This self-examination allows people to dissect and process anger and why this may have led them to substance dependency. These types of realizations will ultimately pave the way for healthier coping mechanisms.

Reach Out to Authorities and Professionals

Substance abuse can influence criminal behavior, hostility, and suicidal and homicidal behavior, which can lead to local authority interventions and legal actions. Thus, legal counsel should be sought to address legal consequences. However, a person can reach out to their local Department of Mental health directory to be steered towards mental health and licensed professionals to enroll in Mental Health Services, Anonymous Groups, and Anger Management groups (CAAMP, etc).

Needless to say, groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and Al-Anon Anonymous (ALAA) can be great resources for substance abuse support. Both AA and NA are famous for using the 12 Step method and providing an individual with a sponsor to help guide and be a support system for those struggling with substance abuse, and the withdrawal effects of substance abuse that can lead to relapsing. Moreover, ALAA is a support group for loved ones who have been affected by those addicted to substances and alcoholism. ALAA is a place where love ones can vent their hurt, and identify ways to heal from hurtful behaviors influenced by both substance and alcohol abuse.

While the courts may not be an easy portal to navigate, the courts can be another good resource to help identify anger management counselors, and groups (CAAMP, etc) to help address the substance abuse psychological behaviors (aggression, anger, violent outbursts, etc,) causing disruption in one’s life. Lastly, the courts can also connect a person to mental health professionals such as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Psychologist, and California Association for Alcohol and Drug Educators (CAADE) ( Apart from that, you can also contact the psychology department in your local community hospitals.

Today, telehealth, a remote arrangement, also gives people more access to mental health professionals online. These mental health professionals, CAADE, and anger management professionals will have been trained to safely take you through the process using psychoeducation, and Motivational Interviewing skills, to help address underling needs that lead one to cope with substance and alcohol abuse. Mental Health Professionals who work in this sector will have gone through numerous training, taken lengthy psychology courses that cover areas like addiction, anger management, and will be very adept at handling clients with dual diagnosis to overcome addiction, and bring stability back into one’s personal life.

Publisher of Article written by: Rachel Jents