In the turbulent landscape of addiction, anger often emerges as an unwelcome companion.
In this gripping podcast episode, host KL takes you on a deeply personal journey of transformation, where compassion triumphs over fury.
KL divulges her own process of learning to let go of anger’s tight grip, revealing how even the briefest moments of fury can quietly erode our well-being. Listen in as she imparts invaluable wisdom, delivering practical tools to master those challenging emotions.
KL shares practical, research-backed tools that can help anyone dealing with a similar situation to gain a deeper understanding of the patterns of addiction and how to shift your mindset to better support your loved ones.
Don’t miss this episode; it might change your perspective on addiction and the strength of the human heart.
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
Resentment To Understanding: Managing Anger When Addiction Hits Home
What I wanted to talk about in this episode is anger. I know there were moments when I was angry at this disease. I had those moments when I was angry at my son, but they didn’t last very long, I will say, thank goodness. I know that there are a lot of us out there who are dealing with this disease and love people who have substance abuse disorder and are angry about it.
I’m always listening to a podcast, reading a book or I’m in continuous learning mode every single day. One of the things that I heard was the research has shown that five minutes of anger suppresses your immune system for the next three hours. If you’re 10 minutes of angry, that’s 6 hours. If you’re 15 minutes of angry, that’s 9 hours of suppressed immune system.
There are some people that live in this space of anger a lot of the time. Obviously, it’s not good for you. It suppresses your immune system. It makes you more vulnerable to diseases and all the things that will take us out. I chose a long time ago that I wanted to be healthy, whole, and thriving in the midst of this journey with my son and my own journey. In order to do that, I needed to take ahold of and be more in control of my own emotions. When I say that, I’m not saying to ignore them or stuff them. I’m saying release them quickly and move through them quickly so that they don’t have to hold you captive for an extended period of time.
Developing those skillsets to recognize what am I feeling at this moment? Whether it’s angry, frustrated, irritated, seething, or whatever that is, because your loved one is sitting in front of you at dinner and you can tell they’re high and it makes you mad. The awareness is first and foremost. Once you have that awareness, step back from it, realize and ask yourself the question, “How is this anger serving me?” How is the anger serving you?
The other piece of that is, “How is this anger serving the wellness of my loved one?” I can guarantee you that being angry with them is a failed strategy in terms of getting them to change. It may actually drive them deeper into their addiction. I know that’s a provocative thing to say, but what I’m going to say is when people are in addiction and they have somebody who’s angry with them, blaming, shaming, guilting them, and trying to get them to do something different.
They already have plenty of shame. They already have plenty of beating themselves up. They already have plenty of trauma that they’re already dealing with. It confirms for them that notion, “I’m no good. I’m worthless. I don’t matter.” That in no way, shape or form will ever serve their recovery. I’m going to come back to you again and me in having the conversation around what actually is healthy anger.
There are times when we have every right and we should give ourselves permission to feel the anger and to be angry about certain things. When they have stolen your grandmother’s jewelry and sold it so that they can get their next fix, that pissed me off. Would it change the outcome? No. Would it change anything? No. The only thing it would do would be to hurt me. I was like, “I’m pissed and I need to go run. I need to go chop wood. I need to go work out and throw some weights around in the weight room. I need to go physically change my body and change.
Anger has a physicality to it. In order to get out of it, go change your body. Shift it. Go for a walk, stand up, or do standing squats with your body weight. Change it up. Go get some music that’s uplifting and powerful. In that way, change your body and physicality out of anger and into a place where you can make much better decisions because anger resides, from a brain science perspective, in your brainstem. It is the place where we don’t make good decisions. We aren’t clear about what’s going on. We’re in fight, flight, or freeze. Paying attention to when you get angry. Are you fighting? Are you fleeing? Are you freezing? What’s going on? What’s your next behavior piece that goes with the emotion of anger?
The best thing to do is to change your physicality first and then ask yourself the question to change your thought, “Is this serving me?” If you haven’t gotten through the other side of the anger, do what you need to do to work through it. Instead of stuffing it, express it and let it go. It’s an energy. That’s why the physical thing is really important. Think about, “What is it that I most want to create for myself in terms of emotion? What are the thoughts that I most want to have?”
Let’s take the example of taking grandma’s jewelry and selling it. It’ll never be seen again. Although I still every once in a while think about that, I only think about it as a thing that happened. Sometimes, it’s maybe a little bit of sadness that that is gone, and then I’m like, “How does that help me?” It doesn’t. Bringing it up again with your loved one who is dealing with substance abuse disorder only drives them farther away from you. You’re not going to get a different outcome.
Recognizing that when people are in substance abuse disorder, they’re in desperation. Right now, we’re in a fentanyl period because heroin’s been sucked up off the market. Fentanyl is a drug that people need to get a fix about every hour. It absorbs their life because you’re either getting it, taking it, or trying to get it again. They will do anything to avoid the pain of not having that drug. It’s part of the disease, lying, stealing, and doing things that you thought your loved one would never do in a million years. When they’re clean and sober, they would never do it in a million years.
Getting clear mentally and emotionally about how this disease presents itself and what kind of things are possible in terms of what people do. It was helpful for me to understand that the patterns of behavior that go with this disease are things that you don’t recognize in your loved one. Breaking down doors, kicking through walls, throwing things, or verbal tirades. These aren’t things, generally speaking, that our loved ones do when they’re clean and sober and they’re back to themselves. The addict almost hijacked your loved one. It’s the addict’s behavior, the patterns of their behavior, that is important to get ahold of.
Recognizing those patterns and knowing what those patterns are was helpful for me. It was like, all of these things, the lying, the denying, saying I’m going to be someplace or I’m going to call and not showing up or not calling, the calling early in the morning and saying, “I’ve run out of gas, I’m on the highway, I don’t have another way to get home, my electricity has been shut off, my gas has been shut off, my water’s been shut off.” All of those things are part of the disease and their patterns. They are ways for your loved one to access money so they can access their next fix.
Getting clear about that with no emotion attached to it because the emotion absolutely is a failed strategy and doesn’t help in any way, shape or form. I think that would be what I would think about now. If you are caught in the loop of anger, I would encourage you to reach out and find some help along the lines to be able to break that pattern. That anger, the only thing it’s doing for you, is deteriorating your health, deteriorating your mind, deteriorating your emotions, and deteriorating your spirit.
You’re not going to be there for your loved one if and when they come out the other side of this disease. I want you to choose to be there. I want you to choose to get a handle on and recognize when you are starting to see, build toward anger, and pay attention to your own pattern around anger. What generally happens is we start to get angry because we’ve been activated by something that somebody’s done, like when somebody cuts you off in traffic. Will they ever know that you got angry? How does it serve? It only hurts you. Most of the time, they’re never going to know and it wouldn’t matter anyway.
Change it, work with it, release it, express it, and move on. This is what I’ve done, I’ve trained myself, and I continue to train myself is somebody cuts me off in traffic and I go, “They’re having a bad day. I’m having a great day.” I change it up in my mind, bless them, release them, and hope their day gets better. That’s a skillset. That’s all it is because I want to feel good. I want to live more in a happy place. I want to live more in gratitude. I want to live more in the joy of my life. Despite my son dealing with addiction and it being heartbreaking at times, maddening at times, frustrating at times, and desperate at times, I have a great life.
Those moments of anger, desperation, and heartache, I’ve only given them the power of a moment. I’m not ever going to give them the power of an hour or a day or a week anymore. In order to do that, there’s a pattern out of it, which is to change your physicality. Move the anger, frustration, desperation, and heartbreak out of your physicality. Change your thoughts. Flip to a question. Is there anything that you can do about the situation that’s going to make it any different for yourself? The vast majority of the time, that answer is no.
I cannot change my son. I can love my son through his journey. I can care about him until the day we are all gone. It’s his journey to go. It’s his to do. Nothing that I do is going to change the outcome of this situation in so many ways. Love them and release them. Love yourself enough to release the anger, the frustration, the heartbreak, and the desperation. Flip to, “What am I grateful for? Get me grounded right now. What am I grateful for? I’m grateful I have a roof over my head. I’m grateful for the food that I get to eat. I’m grateful for the love that I have in my life, my wife, my friends, my family, my best friend, and the people that I get to work with. I’m grateful for air. I’m grateful for so many things.”
Stacking that gratitude helps move you in the direction of living a more grateful and joyful life. You are then better prepared to be there and catch them on the other side of their addiction journey. Recognize your pattern, be aware, shift your physicality, change your mindset, and then change how you talk about it. I had a moment that ticked me off. I got angry. I worked to release it to let it move through me and get back centered. I shifted out of the cortisol wash that goes through your body, which is deteriorating your body and getting back to better hormones, the happy hormones.Stacking that gratitude helps move you in the direction of living a more grateful and joyful life. Click To Tweet
I realize that what I’m talking about and what I would say is the most hopeful thing about what I’m talking about is that it’s a skillset to perfect. I’m still working on it and will continue working on it. I’m getting better and I’m making progress and that’s success. As you get better at this skillset and as you make progress, know in every fiber of your being that you are making progress and success is happening. Stop judging yourself based on other people. Please stop. This is your journey.
I would strongly encourage you to start listening to some podcasts that exemplify this whole notion of how we work with our emotions, mindsets, heart-sets, and spirituality. There are so many great podcasts out there. Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday. Ed Mylett is a great one that I get to listen to, too. Tony Robbins shows up every once in a while on a number of fronts. Just search and find the ones that resonate with you.
The books that resonate with you and keep you in the space of better understanding your patterns, your addict’s patterns, and then being choiceful about the pattern that you absolutely want to create. I give you that as a gift. I ask you to practice, to play with it, and to see if you get better results. I wish you wish you a great journey. I know it’s unfolding. My heart is with you as you walk this path. Until next time, take really good care of yourself. Love you. Bye.