What Are The Benefits of Anger Management for Dual Diagnosis?

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What Are The Benefits of Anger Management for Dual Diagnosis?

Coping with the effects of substance use disorder (SUD) and a co-occurring mental illness can feel overwhelming. Managing a dual diagnosis alone can create additional stress, anxiety, and even anger issues. When those emotions become chronic, it can be helpful to reach out for additional support from mental health professionals. There are a variety of therapies and interventions that can help when dealing with the anger that arises when managing an addiction alongside a mental health issue.

Link Between Anger and Having a Dual Diagnosis

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s publication Anger Management for Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Clients, SUD and anger often co-occur. Unfortunately, this combination increases the risk of negative consequences. These consequences can include self-harm, physical aggression, employment loss, impaired relationships, and issues with the criminal justice system. Based on a meta-analysis of 23 studies in 2014, it was estimated that half of the people who committed homicides that year consumed alcohol and approximately 37% were intoxicated.

Violence, stress, and trauma are linked to substance use and alcohol consumption. For individuals who have a history of untreated trauma, acts of violence, illicit drug use, prescription medication misuse, and alcoholic beverage consumption commonly occur. Fortunately, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and anger management are effective forms of treatment for the mental health conditions (including anger) associated with SUD.

Benefits of Anger Management

Anger management instruction can teach individuals struggling with their dual diagnosis to express their anger in a healthy manner. The aforementioned SAMHSA publication states that an anger management treatment program combined with a CBT approach typically runs for about 12 weeks. This format helps people learn to monitor and work through emotions that could lead to angry responses. 

This is especially effective for individuals who have SUD and a co-occurring mental illness. However, it can also be beneficial for anyone who is facing challenges coping with their anger. Anger control plans can also be a positive strategy for anger management.

Seeking social support from professionals, family, and friends is also an important way to manage anger. Additionally, group anger management therapy can be an effective option. This group approach can help individuals solve problems, cope with the downside of setbacks, and manage stress. These groups also provide a boost in self-esteem while managing certain hardships. They can provide a positive perspective by seeing the good in oneself that may be difficult to find alone. 

Specific Ways Anger Management Groups Can Help

Anger management services can provide several benefits that may include:

  • Relaxation training: This targets the physiological and emotional effects of anger
  • Communication interventions: The individual learns skills in conflict resolution while strengthening assertiveness
  • Cognitive interventions: This helps people build awareness of certain triggers, hostile attributions, inflammatory thinking, and maladaptive beliefs
  • Combined interventions: This targets several areas and integrates two or more CBT interventions

Self-Care Strategies for Coping With Anger and a Dual Diagnosis

To state the obvious, self-medicating a mental health condition with alcohol or certain substances is discouraged by mental health professionals. This management method has been statistically proven to worsen symptoms. On the flip side, using skills and helpful strategies learned from therapy can be a beneficial addition to professional treatment. Practicing self-care is one of the top strategies for relieving the negative effects of SUD and co-occurring mental health conditions.

An individual can use these additional tips to help manage a dual diagnosis:

  • Research the diagnosis
  • Become aware of and learn to recognize the signs to better cope with anger
  • Stay informed on current treatment options
  • Understand the importance of abstinence from drugs and alcohol for continuous sobriety
  • Know that they are not alone (which is why participating in anger management support groups can be a healthy decision)
  • Seek additional support if needed to stay calm

Guidance in Treatment for a Dual Diagnosis

Finding the right mental health professionals to treat a dual diagnosis can be a challenge. Start by finding an appropriate diagnosis through a psychiatrist for both disorders. Overlapping symptoms can make it difficult to establish an accurate diagnosis.

According to guidelines set by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), it is best to combine treatment for SUD and co-occurring mental health conditions. Depending on the provider chosen, comprehensive assessment tools may be used to help target a personalized plan of care for a positive and successful outcome. This may include experimenting with a variety of different therapies or medications.

Participating in anger management therapy, whether it is individual or group interventions can be beneficial. Medicated assisted therapy (MAT) is also an option depending on the severity of one’s condition. Finding self-help strategies and putting them into practice can make a world of difference in one’s future. Most importantly, the individual must understand they are not alone and support is available. There are several resources to look into for additional care.

It’s important to note that researching the link between SUD and a co-occurring mental health condition can help the individual best understand their condition. Self-reflecting and communicating their history to their provider can be very helpful. This can better assist the individual’s healthcare provider in determining the best treatment plan in moving forward.