Anger, Depression, and Addiction | Guest Post by Crystal Hampton

We all having varying emotions throughout the days, weeks, months, and years. Anger can have devastating effects to an individual. This is why it is so important to identify these behaviors in those who are recovering from substance abuse.  On an individual level, anger management issues also lead to a number of negative outcomes, including frustration, resentfulness, regret, depression, feelings of decreased self-worth, or engaging in potentially self-destructive behaviors. Coping skills are an important tool in dealing with and overcoming anger, depression, and addiction.


Due to years of our alcohol and drug abuse, we may have an imbalance of chemicals in our brains.  This can lead to depression, impulsive and erratic behavior, agitation, and irritability. For many of us anger is just another side of depression.  We may have learned our anger and depression in homes where there was, depression, violence, alcoholism or drug addiction, mental illness, and emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.  These experiences can also lead to PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder.


Roadblocks in Recovery


Our anger and depression may have helped us survive in unpredictable or dangerous homes.  When we grow up in these types of homes we learn to fear anger. Our own feelings get lost as we try to control the anger around us.  We tend to believe the pain and anger in our homes is our own fault. We may see our parents or guardians, who may be sick and abusive as healthy, and ourselves as bad.  


As we get older we may have made a conscious choice not to let anyone get close to us so no one would ever have the opportunity to hurt us again.  We make choices to keep people away from us, not because we are sick, but because this is how we have protected ourselves from sick abusive people.  This is how we survived on the street, in jail, or in an abusive home situation. We keep people from getting close to us by getting angry and pushing them away.  We may also keep people from getting close to us by becoming depressed, running away, or withdrawing from others.


The anger and depression that protected us in sick or dangerous environments can block us from success in helpful environments.  Survival skills such as anger and depression protected us in the past. While they may have worked then, they may become roadblocks to our recovery if we try to use them today.  


We now can choose the people we will take risks with.  We can allow them to know something about us other than our  anger and depression. Choose people such as, a spouse, the person you are closest to, your counselor, or your sponsor.


Healing from Anger, Depression, and Addiction


Recovery programs can be a safe place to rethink our old survival skills while engaging in new behaviors, such as sharing our feelings with someone we trust.  We can also heal and grow from receiving and applying feedback from others. Discussing an issue with a support group such as those in AA or NA, or in a individual or group therapy session.  Talk with a therapist or counselor as well as other people in recovery about the issue and ask their feedback. We can learn new skills from a therapist, spouse or loved one, support group members, or close friends in recovery.


Bottom line is that we carry a lot of old baggage with us into recovery.  There are certain instances where it works, and times when it doesn’t. Many have been called or believe that we are bad, diseased, or sick… but we are not!  We are good people who make the wrong decisions sometimes. It’s important to remember that and that we are only human, and learn and grow from our mistakes. These choices can not hold us back but push us to heal and recover.  It is important to remember that!


It is important to remember that we can let go of some of this old baggage and develop new and healthy behaviors.  Anger and depression can be huge roadblocks in our journey in recovery from drugs and alcohol. You can get past these old patterns of how you react to your life and the world around you.  You can learn to form new relationships based on trust and mutual respect. You deserve to live the happy, healthy, and sober life waiting for you!  


Crystal Hampton, 37 years old.

I work for Recovery Local, a digital marketing company that advocates spreading awareness on the disease of addiction. Our company was founded by and staffed with recovering addicts cultivating recovery resources through sharing our own experience, strength, and hope.