Anger Management Course - Anger Drives Addictions

by James A. Baker
(February, 2010. Recovery Today)


anger managementI wish my wife would just shut up and leave me alone. I work long, hard days driving a rig for a local gravel company, and when I get home I need a few beers and some time to unwind. But no, she has something to complain about - my daughter’s behavior or plumbing that isn’t working to suit her or bills that aren’t paid. Man, in this economy she ought to be glad I got a job at all. So then I yell at her for being such a witch and then I get blamed for having an anger problem and told I should go to counseling. Usually I end up apologizing just to calm her down. Why does she make such a big deal of my losing my temper? If she would just leave me alone until I relax and finish my beers, I would be fine.

Fed up in Phoenix

Anger Management Course - Anger Drives Addictions

Dear Fed Up:
Here is a news flash: Because angry, depressed people tend to feel bad emotionally, they often look for ways to make themselves feel better, at least for a little while. Their search can quickly lead to a battle with addictions. Now, we tend to think of addictions as those ugly, messy behaviors like alcoholism, drug dependency, or abnormal sexual behaviors (Tiger Woods, anyone?). However, the best definition of an addiction is anything you use to get a temporary reduction in your perceived level of emotional pain.

Anything you do that helps you feel better - some people would otherwise describe it as feeling normal or feeling alive - is an addiction. This can cover a lot of territory. Of course, the behaviors we mentioned above definitely fit into that category. But the list is much longer and some of the possibilities may surprise you: eating (too much or too little), physical training like running or working out, shopping, hoarding, watching too much TV, relationship dependency, plastic surgery and appearance enhancement, church attendance or participation in other religious activities that begins to disrupt other areas of life, rescuing or assuming responsibility to fix the problems of others - the list is long and open-ended.

Anger Management Course - Anger Drives Addictions

Yes, anger itself can become an addiction. Sometimes referred to as rageaholism, this is a severe pattern of angry behavior in which someone becomes addicted to the adrenalin rush released by the fight or flight reaction, along with the sense of control and power he believes he has when he is “letting it all out.” There is a good chance that if you have been asked to take an anger management course, you may have a problem with anger addiction.

If you recognized yourself in any of the addictions listed above, including anger, there is a good chance that you are struggling with the kinds of emotional pressures that contribute to the fight or flight syndrome and lead directly to problems with anger, which in turn leads to other addictions (like just having a few beers every night to “be fine.”)

This brings us to one final big problem associated with inappropriate anger: it can get you in trouble with the authorities. Maybe it is only your wife or your boss who gets on your case about your problems with anger, but it could just as easily be the police and, eventually, a judge. People who don’t learn how to manage their anger, especially those in the rageaholic category, can end up losing their jobs, their marriages, and even end up in jail if their anger leads them to commit criminal acts of violence.

Anger Management Course - Anger Drives Addictions

So, are we any closer now to answering your question about why does your wife make such a big deal out of your anger? The answer is, because it is a BIG DEAL! People who don’t learn how to manage their anger in ways that are safe and healthy are likely:

  • To be lonely - because their anger ruins their relationships
  • To have lower life expectancies - because their anger ruins their health
  • To be addicted to something - because they are looking for a way to get a temporary reduction in their level of emotional pain
  • In some cases, to even end up in jail

People who care about you want you to get a handle on your anger because they want you to have a happier, more fulfilling life. Everyone else wants you to learn how to manage your anger because you are such a pain in the neck to put up with.

Anger Management Course - Anger Drives Addictions

But the most important question is do YOU want to learn how to manage your anger in ways that are safer and healthier? After all, it is your life. Does the possibility that you could get some relief from the stress that being angry puts on you, and be more at peace with yourself and others, have any appeal to you at all? Only you can answer that question. Up to this point one thing is certain, apologizing to everyone and promising not to do it again isn’t fooling anybody but you, and you will not get better until you face the true seriousness of your problem.

This isn’t something you can really fix with a few beers. The anger and the beers go together; they are both part of the same problem - they are addictions that are undermining your life and stealing your opportunity to be really happy. If you are willing to work on this situation, there are plenty of programs that can give you the tools you need to rebuild your life. If you will do the work, you will reap the rewards. The rest is up to you. Don’t do it for your wife or your daughter or your boss or the judge. Do it for you. Quit blaming everyone else and start challenging yourself to do what no one else can do for you anyhow. It is your anger - it is your life. Get down to business now and work hard to fix them both.

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