Anger and drug addiction

Anger and drug addiction

Individuals who struggle with anger and drug addiction will experience a range of positive and negative emotions, which can have a significant impact on the way individuals:

  • Thinks
  • Feels
  • Acts

These intense emotions can lead individuals already struggling in life to begin experiencing additional intense negative emotions such as depression and anger, which will subsequently affect the individual’s behavior and choices. 

Anger, depression, and addiction all naturally correlate with each other. Often individuals who suffer from addiction additionally have a form of mental health illness. Multiple national population surveys have found that about half of those who experience a mental illness during their lives will also experience a substance use disorder and vice versa.

How do emotions affect our addiction 

When an individual is happy with themselves and their environment, they will more likely than not feel positive and healthy, which will lead to positive and constructive choices. If an individual feels negative, they are more likely to engage in negative experiences and behaviors, leading to poorer choices that could potentially negatively impact their future. 

Furthermore, individuals who suffer from addiction and mental health illnesses will suffer increasingly more at making good decisions, keeping their mood in check, and controlling their behavior. The actions of these individuals can often negatively affect those around them. 

Mental health illnesses and addiction overlap significantly, reinforcing the constant negative cycle, which with time begins to become more intense. For example, individuals will often feel more inclined to start abusing again or more frequently if their mental health is at an all-time low. Long-term drug use can ultimately impair an individual’s ability to deal with intense emotions; if individuals experience these intense emotions, it can cause further emotional dysregulation for the foreseeable future. Mental health disorders such as anger and depression are strongly correlated with a higher likelihood of alcohol and substance abuse. Over the course of an individual’s life, if they experience mental health problems, their thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected in the short and long term. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, which can be seen to include but are not limited to:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

Mental health problems are common, but help is available. People with mental health problems can get better, and many recover completely.

Anger and addiction

Anger is a normal human emotion that all of us will experience more than once within our lifetime. Anger can often be triggered when an individual begins to feel a certain level of discomfort. Individuals with high levels of anger or aggression often display more physical and verbal aggression towards their loved ones, friends, and peers and are at a substantially increased risk of developing at least one mental health issue. 

There is a range of types of anger that an individual can experience. Many clinicians believe that there are three main types of anger can be seen to include:

Open aggression:

An individual who displays open aggression will often feel the need to be in control of situations. Individuals may lash out due to their intense feelings of rage; furthermore, they are known to become verbally and physically violent. These individuals may be seen to engage in:

  • Yelling
  • Bullying 
  • Constant criticizing 
  • Blackmailing 

This type of anger can often show at a young age, especially if the individual has been exposed to traumatic events. 

Passive aggression

Individuals who suffer from passive aggression often feel angry but will act out their feelings in passive ways due to the fear of confrontation. Individuals can be seen to engage in:

  • Silent treatment or stone walling
  • Saying everything is fine when it isn’t 

Assertive anger

Assertive anger is considered the healthier type of anger out of the three. Individuals will act respectfully and maturely to each other, talk about their feelings and listen to others instead of acting out their anger. 

Common ways anger appears in addiction 

Individuals who struggle with addiction often find it hard to express their intense, angry emotions in a healthy way; the anger will manifest within the individual, creating an intensely hostile environment. Understanding how anger will typically appear with addiction can help individuals understand it within themselves or their loved ones if they are struggling with a form of addiction. 

Individuals who are dealing with addiction, no matter the severity, can express their anger by:

  • Threatening those around them, whether they know them or not, in extremely violent ways 
  • Becoming severely aggressive with others can include physical aggression, including punching, hitting or kicking. 
  • Emotionally blacking mailing individuals such as giving them the silent treatment or refusing to support loved ones when they express why they are angry. 
  • Individuals who consume larger dosages of a hazardous substance avoid anger at all costs to avoid their intense, angry emotions, so they do not have to deal with it. 

Coping with anger and addiction

The best way to begin dealing with anger issues when you are struggling with addiction is to make a move to get clean. Becoming sober will give an individual the best chance to work on their mental health disorders whilst creating a better life for themselves and their family. Learning how to work on any underlying emotional or mental health issues and your addiction will ultimately help you achieve long-term sobriety.  

Once an individual has begun their recovery process, consider the following tips to start the journey of coping with anger issues of off severities. 


If an individual is not yet ready to begin sharing their problems with another individual, whether a professional, family member or friend, the journal can be a great way to get your anger off your chest. Write exactly how you are feeling and what you are thinking, and get it all out and on paper. Once you are happy that you have journaled everything, begin looking over what you have written and start brainstorming solutions. 


Meditating is a fantastic way to help an individual cope with anger issues. Meditation allows you to be one with yourself and understand exactly what you are thinking in the current moment. It is essential to notice any physical sensations while focusing on what makes you angry. 


Exercising can be an effective way for an individual to relieve any form of negative emotion due to the release of endorphins which are known as the feel-good hormone. Exercise can lift your entire mood whilst helping you cope with your anger. 

Positive distraction 

Occasionally, the anger we feel can become too much, too intense to deal with at the moment. Distracting yourself positively, such as watching your favorite TV show or making your favorite cake, can bring you a sense of peace. 

Talk to a trusted person 

If you feel comfortable doing so, reach out to a trusted friend or family member to get their perspective on your current situation. It can be a great way to vent and get the anger off your chest whilst hearing an outsider’s perspective. 

Anger can often play a more prominent role in our lives than we ever realize. Individuals who have grown up in households or environments surrounded by violence, hostility, and rage are more likely to develop an addiction later in life. 

Take control back 

When conflicted with addiction, anger management will only ever heighten the negative emotions and will worsen significantly as time goes on. Individuals suffering from either addiction, mental health issues, or both can benefit from a licensed professional and treatment plan to work on both challenges simultaneously. The first step is for the individual to become aware that they have an addiction and want to join the road to sobriety.


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