SUBSTANCE ABUSE

Anger management issues have typically been an issue for people suffering from substance use disorders. But until recently, anger management has been overlooked by many mental health professionals or treated as a separate issue from substance abuse. The reality is that substance abuse and dependency frequently coexist with feelings of anger, aggressive or assaultive behavior and domestic violence.

Anger and substance use are often interrelated. Drugs and alcohol can trigger anger and aggressive actions, as their use impairs judgment skills and often increase impulsive actions. Anger may trigger the use of substances as people try to numb out their feelings with substances. Individuals who have experienced traumatic events as a child or an adult often feel chronic angry and may turn to drugs or alcohol. For these individuals, their “anger management” technique involves the use of alcohol or drugs – but it is actually a risky form of self-medication.

When substance abuse and anger occur together, it demands dual recovery – that is, the problems involving substances, anger and how the two issues interact with each other are usually best addressed at the same time. At Emerge from Anger, we include dual recovery methods in all of our program offerings.

DUAL DIAGNOSIS / CO-OCCURRING DISORDERS

A dual diagnosis is defined as the presence of one (or more) psychiatric disorders, (for example, depression or anxiety), AND one (or more) substance use disorders. The term, dual diagnosis, is used interchangeably with other terms such as co-occurring disorder, concurrent disorder, co-occurring illness, co-morbidity and dual disorders. A person with a dual diagnosis has two or more separate, yet interrelated disorders that may interact in a various ways, making diagnosis and treatment quite difficult:

  • A substance use disorder can mask an underlying psychological disorder.

  • A psychiatric disorder can hide an underlying substance use disorder.

  • Substance intoxication or withdrawal can resemble a psychiatric disorder.

  • Substance abuse may interfere with obtaining counseling services if a person cannot remain sober long enough to attend psychotherapy.

  • A person may self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs to cope with a psychiatric disorder.

  • A dual diagnosis can increase the risk for suicide and/or violence, as the substance abuse and the psychiatric disorder can work together to increase depression, anxiety and impulsive actions, while decreasing judgment skills, coping abilities and problem-solving.


  • Dual diagnosis calls for a program of dual recovery where both the substance abuse and the psychological condition are treated at the same time. At Emerge from Anger, we understand the complex needs of dual recovery and incorporate a dual recovery approach in all of our programs.