Anger and Resentment Likely to Lead to Relapse
Once alcoholics or drug addicts stop abusing their substance of choice, they are left with a bubbling cauldron of emotions, particularly anger and resentment, threatening to boil over at the slightest provocation. Alcohol and drugs mask emotions. People drink and use drugs to alter their feelings. That does not mean the emotions go away. They do not. They linger, just waiting for an opportunity to leap into conscious awareness. Sobriety provides that opportunity. An alcoholic or drug addict in recovery cannot afford to allow those emotions to take over. Letting go of anger and resentment is imperative for full emotional recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction.
Living in the past
Some people have trouble letting go of anger and resentment because they believe their feelings are justified. They have become accustomed to placing blame while in the throes of their addiction, so they continue to the pattern. They dwell on wrongs they have experienced in the past and refuse to move forward into a new way of thinking. Living in the past can create unhealthy stress and set a relapse in motion. Because alcoholics and drug addicts are not used to handling powerful emotions, they easily can be tempted to return to old habits and to self-medicate with their substance of choice.
The only way to deal with anger and resentment is to practice forgiveness. The thought of forgiveness often horrifies vulnerable and emotional recovering alcoholics or addicts. They may have experienced some type of abuse that they don't think they could ever forgive. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, and acceptance does not mean approval. It provides the means to let go of emotional pain, anger and resentment. An article in Psychology Today explains various ideas about forgiveness, such as,
- We are all wounded.
- True forgiveness is a process.
- Forgiving is like grieving.
- There is an art to making amends.
- Past hurts continue to injure.
- Forgiving is important even if a break-up occurs.
- Forgiving yourself
As recovery begins to allow emotions to bubble to the surface, it is important to have tools to deal with them. Letting go of anger and resentment and practicing an attitude of forgiveness requires humility. It requires a deep look inside. It is a vital ongoing process in recovery.