addiction recovery

Why Have I Been So Angry During Addiction Recovery?

Last Updated: Tue, January 23, 2024

When you are going through addiction recovery, you are going to experience a myriad of emotions. This is something that everyone will experience since recovering from addiction is a complicated process that brings up a lot of emotions.

One emotion that many people experience during recovery is a feeling of overwhelming anger. Sometimes, this is worse depending on the substance you are recovering from or why you initially started using it. Either way, it is an uncomfortable experience that you will want to be prepared for.

If you are worried about feeling angry once you start recovery or you are already at that point, keep reading for more information about why this happens.

Understanding Recovery Triggered Anger

You will experience many emotions once you start your recovery journey towards a better life. For some people, sadness or anxiety is what dominates their emotions during this initial stage. But everybody is different, and how your mind and body process this change will be personal to you.

If you are feeling very angry during this process, this is nothing to be ashamed of. Many people experience anger, and there are some common reasons why this may be happening.

Unresolved Emotional Issues

For many people, addiction was originally a way of coping with emotional issues that they didn’t know how to deal with. Unfortunately, addiction spirals out of control and results in many more problems for most individuals.

Once you stop using substances to avoid your emotions, unresolved emotions are going to boil to the surface. This can result in a variety of unpleasant feelings, with anger being one of the dominant ones.

You may have to face childhood trauma, PTSD, or other unresolved emotional issues now that you aren’t numbing your feelings.

Behavioral Problems

For many people, anger is one of many emotions, but it can spiral into a behavioral problem. Some people have a greater tendency to be angry, which can make it more challenging to deal with when you are in recovery.

You may have had behavioral problems that ultimately led to your addiction, such as an inability to avoid triggers or impulses. These behavioral issues will still be there once you start recovery, and you will have to find a way to address them head-on.

Having to face so many problems at once can feel very overwhelming, and a natural emotion many people feel during this process is anger.

How to Combat Addiction Recovery Anger

Even though addiction recovery is a complex process, that doesn’t mean it is impossible. By replacing bad habits with good ones and unhealthy coping mechanisms with healthier ones, you can quickly start to see a huge improvement.

Taking recovery one step at a time is important because there is no deadline or guide you can specifically follow. Every person is different, and one of the main things you have to remember is to give yourself a little grace and flexibility to make mistakes.

Relaxation Techniques

During recovery, if you are struggling with anger, you most likely have triggers that create this emotional response. A prevalent type of trigger that causes anger is any kind of stress-inducing situation. This doesn’t even have to be extremely stressful; it could be something as simple as locking yourself out of your house or forgetting to run an errand.

Many people benefit from incorporating meditation into their routine and deep breathing exercises. You could also practice mindfulness by journaling or spending time in nature.


A big part of addiction recovery is trying to avoid your triggers and distract yourself from those impulses. If you are able to do that, you will eventually become mentally stronger, and avoiding those situations will be much easier.

The same rule applies to negative emotions like anger that can come up suddenly. Instead of focusing on stopping this feeling, which can feel impossible, you should focus on distracting yourself.

In many instances, removing yourself from the triggering situation is enough to take your mind off it. If that isn’t enough, you could play a game of tug-of-war with your dog, put on some relaxing music, or find something in your home to clean. Even a seemingly insignificant task can be just enough to take your mind off what you are angry about.


So many people underestimate the power of exercise regarding how you feel mentally and physically. Physical exertion is a well-documented solution for regulating emotions and improving your general feeling of well-being.

Exercise floods your mind with endorphins, which help to push out negative thoughts and give you a healthier kind of high.


As we discussed above, distracting yourself is a great solution to reducing feelings of extreme anger. One great way to provide a distraction for this is to develop hobbies so you aren’t left with too much free time.

Hobbies like hiking, sewing, painting, or learning a new instrument are great options that give you a positive outlet. Having hobbies also increases your feeling of well-being by giving you a purpose and building your confidence as you develop your skills.


Everyone going through addiction recovery should have a therapist that they meet with regularly to discuss their progress. A therapist can hold you accountable and provide a non-judgemental point of view and outside perspective. They can help you better understand what is causing your anger so that you know what emotions and behaviors you need to address.

It is ideal to find a therapist who has experience with addiction counseling since they will understand how to address your specific needs.


Addiction recovery is a process that provides a pretty steep learning curve for most people. You’ll have to learn how to deal with your unresolved emotions as well as alter unhealthy behavioral patterns. A big part of this includes addressing feelings of anger and understanding why you are feeling this emotion.

No matter where you are in your recovery, it is important to remember that no one is perfect, and your situation is going to look different from everyone else’s. You need to have patience and give yourself room to make mistakes along the way.

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