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Avoiding Alcohol Relapse: Anger Management Tips for Parents

Anger Management Tips for Preventing Alcohol Relapse
The opposite of anger—call it joy, calm and peace—is what we all strive for in life. And it’s harder for those who are early in recovery.

Nobody likes to experience anger. The feeling rises inside of you demanding an outlet. Maybe you punch a pillow, head outside for a run or sit down with your spouse to vent about whatever made you mad.

Now think of your adult child who’s been using alcohol to numb emotions for years. He or she is home from rehab and doing well, but almost certainly has more stressors than the average person—and absolutely no way of dealing with them.

It’s easy to see how tempting it would be for someone in that position to give in to the temptation of alcohol. In fact, it happens all the time, especially when too many short-cuts were taken at rehab.

While it’s true that your son or daughter is responsible for his or her recovery, there are things you can do to be supportive. One of the biggies is to help your child learn how to address his or her anger in a healthy way.

To manage anger, you have to understand it. According to psychologists, anger is actually a secondary emotion. When your son or daughter experiences it, they need to take a breath and examine what it is they are really feeling. Underneath anger, you will find a primary emotion—such as fear or sadness or even boredom. (Your child should have learned this skill at rehab, so you’ll likely be reminding them of how to process anger, not teaching them a whole new concept.)

Heat-of-the-Moment Anger Management Tips

The thing about anger is that it doesn’t always give you time to analyze it and work through it. More often than not, anger demands action. The goal, of course, is to settle on an action that’s not harmful. Here are a few to pass on to your loved one.

  • Take a walk. Not only are you (hopefully) getting away from a point of stress, but exercise also helps calm anger.
  • Be assertive, not aggressive. Let’s say you’re scared because an old drinking buddy stopped over and wanted to go out. Rather than react with anger to the friend or anyone else, you need to learn to calmly state that you can’t go out to bars at this point in your life—and would appreciate not being asked to do so.
  • Don’t let things fester. If you have an issue with someone, take whatever time you need to collect yourself and then address it. Don’t let resentment build until it’s a force too big to reckon with.
  • Keep an anger journal. This will allow you to recognize situations, circumstances and people who trigger negative emotions—so that you can deal with them appropriately or, if necessary, avoid them.
  • Practice relaxation skills. If you need help, there are numerous free apps that can walk you through deep breathing exercises. Yoga, prayer and meditation are techniques that also work for many.
  • Seek therapy. Recovery is a process and therapy is a tool your loved one may turn to on occasion over the years to work through issues.

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