Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Feature Article by Bajeerao Patil, MSW

An associate of mine recently asked that I review an article written by an author she was working with.  It was so relevant and to the point that I decided to post it.   The reality is that more than half my clients, all of whom come to me with anger, have problems with addiction or addictive tendencies.  If you see yourself or someone you know in this well-worded article, I strongly suggest checking out his book as well.

How Anger Can Lead to Drinking or Using Drugs

by Bajeerao Patil, MSW
 Author of Lifelong Sobriety: How to Stop Drinking And/Or Using Drugs

Anger is a powerful emotion, extensively experienced but quite inadequately handled.  Do you know anger has caused more damage in the world than any other single emotion?  Of course, anger is a self-destructive emotion, but it has a tremendous potential to harm others as well.  Some of the most serious crimes such as aggravated assaults, murders, riots and wars are a direct result of anger that is not handled well.

Lack of control on angry thoughts and inability to handle anger appropriately has destroyed many individuals, families, communities, and even nations.  Additionally, anytime you don’t handle your anger well it causes you heartache, headache, stress, anxiety, high blood pressure and relationship issues.  One of the leading causes of relationship issues is also anger.  Several divorces are taking place daily because couples aren’t able to handle their anger appropriately.

Many end up in jail because of their inability to handle their anger well.  Also, countless individuals end up drinking or using drugs when they are angry.  In the course of my work, as a drug and alcohol counselor over 25 years, I have come across several individuals who relapsed because they weren’t able to handle their anger well.

Brian’s Story:
Recently, I had Brian in my office, who was in treatment last time about a year ago.

“What brought you here?” I asked
“I relapsed,” he responded guiltily.
“What happened?”
“I was doing well.  I was clean for seven months.  But one day I had an argument with my girlfriend, Brianna, do you remember her?”
“Yes!  She attended a family session when you were here the last time, right”
“Correct,” he said enthusiastically.
“After the argument what happened,” I enquired.
“I got real mad, left the house and smoked crack.”
“So, what’s going to be different this time?” I asked.
“I will not act out the way I did the last time. I will not fight with my peers either.”
“Do you remember what you did when you were here the last time?”
“I’m sorry for punching holes in your wall. I remember you telling me that if I didn’t handle my anger well I would relapse.”
“So at least this time you should focus on learning some techniques to deal with your anger differently.”
“Sounds like a plan to me.  Can I go to smoke?” And out the door he went.

A couple of days later, while at the nursing station, he got into an argument with his roommate and when the nurse intervened he cursed her out using racial slurs and left the treatment.  Two days later we got the call from the crisis center that Brian wanted to come back, but we had to turn him down for our beds were full.

Time and again, I come across individuals who use drugs or alcohol because they aren’t able to manage their anger appropriately.

Dan’s Story:
Dan, my ex-patient has relapsed several times because of his inability or rather refusal to handle his anger properly.  He was always angry and complained about his peers in general and female peers in particular.  One day, early morning he barged into my office fuming.  He was so angry that words were frozen in his mouth.  After taking a deep breath, he began bad mouthing his peers.   When I asked him why he was angry.  He complained that a couple of female peers were touching him inappropriately and that he wasn’t there for rehab romance and that he was a married man.  But he wouldn’t reveal the names of his peers who were touching him inappropriately because he wasn’t a snitch.

“When did it happen?” I asked.
“A few days ago.”
“Then why are you complaining now?”
“Because I’m angry.”
“Angry after so many days?”

He didn’t say anything.  He was looking for an excuse to leave but also wanted to be able to justify his action to his wife and others.  Later, he spat out all his medication because he thought the nurse gave him the wrong pills.  I spent a considerable amount of time explaining how his anger was causing him unnecessary stress and aggravation and what he should do to manage his anger.

Several days later, he found another reason to be angry about.  He claimed that his leftover food went missing from the patients’ refrigerator.  Interestingly, he knew who stole it but wouldn’t give away person’s name.  Finally, he left and got high.  The same day his wife brought him back to treatment, and he was readmitted.  He promised her that he would learn to deal with his anger appropriately and that he wouldn’t use drugs again.

Many use drugs to pacify their anger, but it doesn’t help the situation.  Actually, it complicates the situation further.  It clouds their thoughts and impairs their judgment.  It doesn’t allow anyone to experience peace of mind.  Walking away from anger producing situation, meditation, exercising, reading positive literature, listening to soothing music does help in managing anger well.  But the proper solution is understanding.  Understanding anger and its futility will help you refrain from entertaining angry thoughts and acting without considering the consequences of your action.  Slowly but surely it will allow you to combat anger with love which is the most effective way to deal with anger. Think about it.
About Bajeerao Patil
Bajeerao Patil has been treating addictions as a drug and alcohol counselor for over 25 years. He has Masters Degrees in Social Work and Human Resources. He is an avid teacher of addiction and recovery.  He is affiliated with the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association.  Bajeerao Patil is an author of Insanity Beyond Understanding and Lifelong Sobriety. To learn more about Bajeerao Patil and his work, visit http://www.amazon.com/dp/0989569810/ and http://www.bajeeraopatil.com/.


  1. Looks like a great book for families helping family members who are suffering from addiction and individuals who are overcoming addiction.