Our Recovery Program – Anger Management
What is Anger?
“In the most general sense, anger is a feeling or emotion that ranges from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. Anger is a natural response to those situations where we feel threatened, we believe harm will come to us, or we believe that another person has unnecessarily wronged us…People often confuse anger with aggression. Aggression is a behavior that is intended to cause harm to another person or damage property. This behavior can include verbal abuse, threats, or violent acts. Anger, on the other hand, is an emotion and does not necessarily lead to aggression. Therefore, a person can become angry without acting aggressively.”
What is Anger Management?
At Heartland House, we utilize SAMHSA’s Anger Management CBT model, which aligns with bringing about self-awareness and dissecting and owning each client’s behavior. When they can look at that behavior as it relates to their addiction, and really accept it they can begin to make a change.
So what is anger management? Anger management, in our case, is a program we offer to men in our stead that will help them learn to manage anger, stop the violence or the threat of violence, develop and strengthen skills for self-control over thoughts and actions, receive support and feedback from others.
Why Clients at Heartland House Need this Program
Many don’t realize there’s an alternative to the addictive lifestyle we’ve been living. We start using substances to deal with something internally, then some become addicted. Those with substance use disorder then end up relying on these substances to deal with life, with whatever is occurring on the outside.
Addicts or alcoholics have also likely experienced trying to “fix it”, meaning their addiction, on their own, and likely being frustrated that they couldn’t. This constant fight and feeling of letting down family, friends, and self can lead to anger and frustration.
Once they sober up, they don’t have the buffer of the feeling of what drugs or alcohol did for them anymore. The newfound awareness of their behavior in their addiction, now being seen through the clarity of sobriety, can also lead to frustration, self-anger, guilt, shame, and remorse.
Another factor is that many with substance use disorder may have had to use aggression (often confused with anger – anger being the emotion, aggression being the outward action) in order to survive in certain environments that their addiction has placed them in. They may have found themselves in a gang or living on the streets, environments where aggression and anger may for a while appear to keep them safe. After living in this manner for a while, resentment and fear begin to run their lives and can often show up as outward aggression toward multiple various outside factors.
How does Heartland House teach the course?
Anger management is one course in a multi-layered approach in the Heartland House program. We utilize the “SAMHSA Anger Management for Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Clients” and follow its course recommendations pretty closely, which involves 12 weeks of courses, 120 minutes each, once a week. Each course focuses on a different aspect of anger and how clients can learn to begin managing.
Through this course, anger is defined and explored so the clients can first understand what it is they are healing in themselves. Then we look at myths surrounding anger, different techniques to manage anger, and how to put all of this into practical application.
Once the participants understand anger, the course takes them through how to measure their anger through an “anger meter” and how to recognize anger bubbling up in them by looking at events and cues.
Then the clients put together anger control plans with all of the tools they’ve learned, and then two sessions are dedicated to putting these plans into practical application through four types of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) processes and practice: relaxation techniques, cognitive interventions (awareness of “triggers”), communication skills intervention, and combined interventions (combining two or more of these).
When the clients graduate the course they are set up for future management of their anger control by being asked questions such as:
- List anger management strategies in your anger control plan. How can you use these strategies to better manage your anger?
- In what ways can you continue to improve your anger management skills?
- Are there specific areas that need improvement?
If you or a loved one need help or would like to learn more about any of our Heartland House Programs, please contact us.