Addiction, Anger Management and Family Life

Many people have problems managing their anger toward others and even toward themselves. If you are abusing substances, it’s important to understand that addiction often coexists with anger.

Anger and Substance Abuse

You may have turned to drugs or alcohol in order to block uncomfortable feelings such as anger or frustration. Substances are often perceived as having the ability to transform your negative feelings into happier ones, but this is rarely the case in reality. In fact, substance abuse can make you feel even angrier with others, yourself and the world at large.

Withdrawal or detox from a drug habit can incur anger, as the symptoms of withdrawal are usually painful and the residual effects of the drugs in your system can affect brain function. Family life can be affected by substance abuse, making you feel angry and leading you to lash out.

However, most people do not make the connection between their anger and their substance abuse. You may seek out a detox program for your addiction issues but not immediately see a need for anger management therapy.

Family Therapy and Substance Abuse Treatment

If you enter a substance abuse treatment program, it means that you, as the primary client, are the patient being treated. If anger is an issue affecting you and your family, then all members of the family should be treated as well. (1)

Family therapy as part of a rehab program is composed of different therapeutic approaches and can have different goals, depending upon the issues being faced. Family members may be angry and resentful toward the patient for abusing drugs or alcohol. Such a reaction can bring on family stress and discord and may actually trigger a relapse in a patient undergoing rehab.(2)

Family therapy can be beneficial for the patient and all members of the family. Therapy can help you become more aware of your needs and how your behavior is affecting others. It can improve your mental health, alleviate anger and help your family as a whole. Communication styles and relationships often improve as a result of family therapy.

Managing Anger with Family Therapy

There are various forms of family therapy that can help with anger management in coordination with a rehab program. In fact, family therapy is a vital element of substance abuse treatment. A therapist will find different ways to work with a family as a complete unit, in smaller groups made up of individual members of the family and with each family member alone.

Some types of family intervention used in substance abuse therapy may include the following:

  • Multidimensional Family Therapy, which studies parenting styles and ways to impact substance use in a positive way.
  • Family Behavior Therapy, which targets the substance abuse and mental health issues, including anger and depression, family problems and financial issues.
  • Community and Family Approach, which incorporates the community as well as the family in therapy, looking at ways to improve communication and generate a wider support system.

Anger management and family therapy can help you learn skills to manage your anger in a positive way as your personal familial relationships improve, enabling you to continue toward sobriety with less stress.


  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64269/
  2. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/recognize-anger.aspx