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How to Handle Anger in Recovery

anger in recovery

Anger is a natural part of the recovery process for many people. Whether you’re dealing with chronic addiction and frustrated with yourself or your situation, or you’re dealing with misunderstandings and conflict after time spent in rehab, anger in recovery can be both helpful and harmful. When you react with anger and are aware of it, your emotions can help you understand the situation and discover triggers that lead to drug abuse. When you let anger get the better of you, though, you can hurt yourself and others and might put yourself at risk for relapse.

The Bible offers us many words of wisdom about anger; let’s take a look at five pieces of Scripture that provide direction for us in times of anger in recovery.

1. “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
—James 1:19-20

James writes about the type of anger that causes us to take action — the wrong type of action. The Bible repeatedly tells us that God can be wrathful and act on that wrath, but we aren’t God. When we act with anger as the leader, we usually don’t make righteous decisions. Instead, we lash out at others or ourselves. For someone in recovery, anger and hurting can lead to a return to drug abuse to either numb those emotions of anger or to take it out on ourselves or others.

James reminds us of lessons many were taught in grade school. When you feel angry, he says, take a breath. Count to ten. Listen first and wait until you are calm to speak. Human anger isn’t going to get you very far, he says.

2. “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.”
—Proverbs 29:11

James isn’t unique in his message. Being slow to anger and trying to manage your fury is something taught throughout the Bible. Proverbs tells us that only fools let their rage fully vent. That doesn’t mean you should keep your emotions inside, bottled up where they might explode. It means that you should be wise and calm in how you communicate with others, and when you need to vent or discuss a situation, seek an impartial, calm and trustworthy ear.

Here, you might see one value of counseling throughout the recovery process. By talking things through with a professional, you can avoid saving up anger in recovery and lashing out inappropriately at others or at yourself. Keeping rage from building over time also reduces drug abuse triggers related to unresolved emotions.

3. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
—Proverbs 15:1

In this second selection from Proverbs, the Bible reminds us of another reason not to lash out in anger. It’s the old “more flies with honey” situation, and it’s true. Gentle, calm communication is often more effective than yelling. As someone in recovery, when you can communicate your needs, fears, and goals to your loved ones in a calm way, they are more likely to be able to help you seek sobriety. As a loved one to someone in recovery, when you can avoid angry outbursts, you’re more likely to get through to or be able to support your family member.

4. “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips”
—Colossians 3:8

You might have rid your body of drugs through detox, but your journey is far from done. You probably know that drug addiction is a chronic condition that you could struggle with the rest of your life; so is the human condition. Humans are flawed creatures, and if you are Christian, then those flaws are something you might be working on for the rest of your existence in this earthly realm. Colossians reminds us that we have to always strive to get rid of the things that are ungodly if we have any hope to make slow improvements as we grow.

5. “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”
—Ephesians 4:26-27

Finally, Ephesians lets us know that we can be angry without sinning, which opens the door for those dealing with drug addiction and substance abuse to process emotions and situations in a very normal, healthy way. Instead of hiding from your anger in recovery, make sure you feel it and work with professional counselors to deal with the issues that are causing you frustration.

Don’t let the sun go down on your anger or fears; reach out to loved ones, professionals or the Christian Treatment center for help today. You can call our counselors anytime, day or night, to find out about treatment options if you are dealing with anger in recovery that might lead to relapse.

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