The Anger Addict

By susanpeabody 05/04/18

Dear John:

I am concerned about your situation. In advising people, I try to look at the big picture--to stand back and look at what has happened, what is happening, and where you are headed. What I see is a man who is angry about things that have happened to him. In the process of being angry for such a long time, you have become addicted to it. Addiction is a problem because it isolates you. It pushes people away who love you. It can put you in jail or get you hurt. It gets worse over time. It can destroy you.

Why People Get Angry:

The chemicals released dissipate depression, shame, and disappointment.

The anger makes you feel protected from being hurt. It makes you feel safe.

The anger gives you a sense of power.

The anger gives you a sense of superiority over others.

The anger makes you high.

Anger keeps people at a distance because you fear emotional intimacy.

Anger releases tension.

During withdrawal from anger addiction, tension builds up and depression sets in. All the problems you have been avoiding come crashing in. You need help with this.


1. Admit that you have issues with anger. Nothing can change until you acknowledge that you have a problem. This is the first step in Alcoholics Anonymous. Like the step suggests, it helps to admit that you are powerless for now and need help. Take the time to announce this at a meeting or to your sponsor. Most of all be fearlessly honest with yourself and be humble. I believe that “pride goes before a fall,” and pride has no place at this crucial time of your life.

2. Talk about your anger. Talk at closed meetings. Talk with your sponsor. Talk to a therapist. Talk to a friend. Find someone you can trust who can either sympathize or even empathize with what you are going through. Don’t stop talking until you have emptied out your pain. Do not for a minute think you are talking too much or bothering someone. You are in recovery. You do have to be respectful and not yell or scream at your listener.

3. Write in your journal. As you write, marvelous things you have forgotten will spill out onto the page. This can be a personal journal or you can share it with others. My journal, which I started in 1982, became the draft of my first book Addiction to Love. You must pour our heart out on to the page and further this process of discovery.

4. Do not get lost in your anger. Anger is a “double edged sword.” It is part of the process, not the process itself. As soon as you are able, move on and put the reasons you are angry into perspective. Don’t let it destroy you and your life.

5. Forgive the people you are angry with. To forgive means to let go of resentment. You do not have to like them, associate with them, or let them continue to hurt you.

6. If you are angry about your childhood, accept what happened to you. How do you do this? You can’t do it right away. You can’t do it when you want to. You can’t do it while you are in the angry stage. You will do it when you are ready. You can push yourself a little, but balance this with patience. Tell yourself that: these are the cards you were dealt. Maybe something good will come out of this. (I became a teacher because of what happened to me.) According to AA: “Acceptance is the answer to all our problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation--some fact of my life--unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

7. Move on. This is the fun part. You drop all of this. You create a new life. You embrace our present and dream about the future. You live your life of abundance. Of course, the past will come back to haunt you now and then because this is the way the brain works, especially when you go home for the holidays or meet someone you have been angry with. However, as time goes on the pain of the past will lessen and come up less often to disrupt your new life in recovery.

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