Anger Management and Addiction

Addiction can wreak havoc on our emotions; reliance on a substance or a specific behaviour can be so consuming that we may experience extreme mood swings ranging from anxiety, irritability, sadness, fear and anger. It’s natural to feel anger, and it’s good to acknowledge and release it from time to time, so long as it’s done healthily. However, expressing anger can be dangerous and unhealthy if people have poor anger management. Unfortunately, addiction aggravates our emotions and impairs our clarity of thinking, thus creating the perfect storm for enraged feelings to spiral.

Understanding the relationship between anger and addiction is vital for us to break free from addiction and exert better anger management. Here, we outline what unhealthy anger is, how it correlates to addiction and the best way to combat both.


What is unhealthy anger?

Unhealthy anger can make a person feel as though they are losing control. For example, we may experience “red mist”, whereby we feel like we could say or do anything highly out of character, which could severely damage meaningful relationships. Moreover, unhealthy anger is when a person has thoughts or intentions of wanting to hurt themselves or others, whether physically, mentally or emotionally. It usually stems from the concept of making other people feel their pain.

Signs of poor anger management and addiction

If you are concerned that someone you love is struggling with poor anger management alongside a substance abuse or behavioural addiction, read through the following statements to see if they are struggling with a co-occurring disorder.

  • They may demonstrate threatening behaviour to those around them, such as shouting, swearing or insulting, which may worsen when a person consumes alcohol or drugs.
  • They can become aggressive if someone tries to remove their source of addiction, e.g., if alcohol or drugs have been hidden from them.
  • They often blame others for adverse outcomes and may even blame others for their dependence on behaviours or substances.
  • Their behaviour becomes threatening if they consume alcohol or drugs.
  • People around them feel like they are “walking on eggshells” when they use substances.
  • They struggle to let go of past rage and are preoccupied with something negative that happened in the past and are only satisfied when they have access to their drug of choice.
  • Hostile body language and tendencies such as door slamming, throwing objects or driving recklessly if they are unable to access their ‘fix’.
  • They exhibit physical aggression if they can’t access drugs or alcohol, including hitting, kicking, or pushing to release anger
  • They may become increasingly hostile and insulting if they cannot access their ‘fix’.

The connection between addiction and anger

Sometimes those with addiction and poor anger management may seem to ‘overreact’ to adverse scenarios. This is usually because the root cause of anger stems from unprocessed feelings from their past, and present situations may suddenly trigger rage. Therefore, a person with anger issues and addiction can be easily triggered; consider walking across a landmine – their anger is already embedded deep in the ground below, so a person needs to be very careful where they step in case they cause an explosion. Thus, they may be subconsciously harbouring unhealed trauma for something that may have happened long ago. This could be many things, varying from:

  • Grief
  • Sadness
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Rejection of any kind
  • Shame
  • Humiliation


Ultimately, unprocessed trauma can cause someone to feel like they are treading on tentative ground. At any moment, something could bring about extreme rages from within, such as an insensitive remark or a minor inconvenience to their day. Sadly, it is likely that many people are in denial about their past pain and may attempt to suppress it by abusing substances or engaging in unhealthy behaviours to escape uncomfortable emotions.

Moreover, addiction can fuel deep-rooted anger further as they may feel they are losing the war with addiction. Sadly, the power of addiction can be so overwhelming that those fighting it can feel intense frustration at their inability to quit on their own. Angry outbursts may bring about intense feelings of guilt as often, when a person calms down, it can be alarming for the person with anger problems to realise they temporarily lost themselves to their temper. They may turn to substance abuse or behavioural addiction to’ block out’ feelings of shame.

How Primrose Lodge can help

It’s tough to quit addictive tendencies on your own, so we believe rehabilitation is the safest and surest way to overcome addiction. We firmly believe that all addictions come with mental health problems, which is why we specialise addressing co-occurring disorders within our treatment programme. Provided that your temper is not a danger to you or those around you, we are happy to treat you for addiction and offer you further support for anger management. You’ll be welcomed into our private home, where your daily needs will be cared for. In addition, a medically supervised detox will be provided for those with substance addiction.

Acknowledging the root cause of anger and addiction can be challenging, but to heal, we must address the underlying causes of anger to overcome addiction for good. So, we will offer a variety of treatments designed to help you overcome unhealthy dependency and gain a better grasp on anger management. Such therapies include, but not limited to:

One-to-one counselling
One-to-one counselling with one of our highly qualified therapists can allow you to identify the root of your anger. You and your therapist will discuss your experiences and feelings in a safe and confidential space. Although this may feel intense, finding and addressing the root cause of your anger and the source of addiction will be something of a ‘breakthrough moment’- that will propel you further toward healing. Overcoming unhealthy tendencies to express anger takes practice and commitment. Still, the more you practice, the more natural it will feel, and ultimately, you will develop helpful techniques to better handle feelings of anger.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
CBT is a ground-breaking source of psychotherapy that enables people to address the thought processes that lead to specific behaviours. Therefore, our highly skilled psychologist will be able to help you manage your compulsions and urges that drive you to addiction and thus show you effective coping strategies to employ instead.
Yoga, meditation, and gong bath therapy
When we are in the depths of addiction and struggling with feelings of anger, our nervous system can go haywire, which only induces stress and tension in our minds and bodies. Not only can this make us feel physically irate, but it can also be difficult to find clarity of thinking in our minds. Yoga, meditation, and gong bath therapy all work in tandem to counteract this and thus bring your nervous system back into a state of calm, creating a peaceful sensation in your mind and body.
Art therapy
Although talking therapies are highly beneficial, they can no doubt feel exhausting. Therefore, clients will be offered the opportunity to participate in art and creative expression therapies. For those who’ve never done it before, don’t worry – you don’t have to be Picasso to get involved, simply expressing yourself with colours or being creative with your hands can put your mind in a reflective and calming mode.
Group therapy
Addiction doesn’t discriminate, and it can affect anyone and everyone. Moreover, anger is a common emotion that many people grapple with when facing addiction. Group therapy allows you to listen and, if you feel ready, share your story with others. This will help you to realise that you are not going through addiction alone.
Family counselling
It’s easy for addiction to cause a rift between you and those you love. To add salt to the wound, poor anger management can damage close relationships; we may do or say things we don’t mean out of fear, sadness and frustration, and people can get hurt. However, we refuse to let addiction win, so we invite you and your loved ones to take therapy together so you can all learn to understand, forgive, and heal each other.

Get the help you need today

Experiencing the trauma of addiction alongside intense feelings of anger can feel debilitating and relying on an addiction to keep anger at bay can weigh heavy on your mind, body, and soul. We are committed to helping you break free of addiction and explore healthier ways of expressing anger so you can improve relationships, manage your personal and professional life, and lead a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle. So, call or chat with us today, and a member of our friendly support team will help you get on the road to recovery.

Frequently asked questions

Which addictions are most likely to fuel anger?
Both depressants and stimulants can contribute to unhealthy anger levels. For example, stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine are known to have a particularly dramatic effect because they can increase irritability and restlessness due to the chemical changes they cause in the brain and body. Alcohol abuse is also closely linked with aggression, violence and depression so quitting alcohol can often help to reduce all of these issues.
Will my anger be treated directly in rehab?
While rehab will not treat your anger directly, it will provide a safe and supportive environment to help you understand and manage the triggers which exacerbate both your addiction and your anger. Your addiction treatment programme will include individual counselling, group therapy and other types of therapy to help you learn healthy ways to cope with difficult emotions. Substance abuse is a major cause of irrational anger so when you are no longer dependent on substances, you should find that you are more in control of your anger and are able to react to situations in a more rational, controlled way.
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Who am I contacting?

Calls and contact requests are answered by admissions at

UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

0203 553 9263