While it is often an uncomfortable feeling, anger is a natural emotion. Further, no person is a stranger to the feeling of anger. It is a primary, natural emotion that has evolved through human nature as a survival mechanism. The purpose of anger is to redirect us from danger and inflict the body’s fight-or-flight response. Despite anger being an appropriate emotion to experience as a result of life circumstances, if left unmanaged, it can cause problematic and concerning behavior.
Anger and Substance Use
Many people that struggle with addiction and substance use disorders (SUDs) also struggle with behavioral issues, such as anger and aggression. Effective treatment for substance use problems must influence an individual’s ability to become sober and target the underlying causes of substance use and unhealthy behaviors.
Anger Replacement Therapy (ART)
One popular treatment modality used to address and overcome unmanaged aggression and anger is anger replacement therapy (ART). Also known as aggression replacement training, ART is a cognitive-behavioral intervention that works to reduce aggression and violent behavior. Although ART was initially developed for problematic adolescents, ART shows promise for any person looking to train and redirect unhealthy aggressive behavior.
The Components of ART
Anger replacement therapy is a multidimensional program. It can be broken down into three components:
- Structured learning training is the action component of ART. It is intended to increase social skills in a healthy way through social interaction. Social learning training may occur through direct instruction, role-play, practice, and performance feedback. Working with one another through social interaction allows participants to practice positive and realistic ways of responding to difficult social situations, including failure, dealing with accusations, and adequately responding to the needs and emotions of others.
- Anger control training is the emotional component of ART. It is intended to help participants recognize and manage triggers that contribute to aggressive behavior. Training helps identify and overcome internal and external factors that contribute to aggressive behavior. Participants are asked to bring descriptions of recent anger-arousing experiences to every session. Throughout the program, participants will be encouraged to use the skills that they have learned in training to control their emotions and behaviors for future situations.
- Moral reasoning is the values component of ART. It is intended to educate and address the reasoning behind aggressive behavior. In this component, participants are encouraged to connect deeper with their unique values and motives and, in turn, lessen aggressive behavior. This also gives participants an opportunity to discuss their values, responses, and perspectives in a safe space, increasing overall competency and broader moral understanding.
The Goals of ART
The main objectives or goals of ART include:
- Reducing aggression and violence
- Increasing prosocial skills
- Decreasing angry, and especially impulsive, behavior
- Increasing moral reasoning and development through group meetings
- Increasing perspectives and understanding
Take Control of Emotions
ART is a valuable therapeutic approach for individuals that struggle with behavioral aggression or unresolved anger management. ART specifically helps individuals take control over their emotions by overcoming the powerful feelings triggered by difficult situations. Several notable benefits of ART include:
- Increased empathy: More often than not, anger is triggered by a lack of education and understanding. ART helps participants learn the meaning behind their anger and teaches participants that they can choose how to respond to difficult situations. Group meetings help participants to see how situations are perceived from different perspectives and ultimately replace feelings of anger with empathy.
- Better judgment: In the same way, that empathy is increased, ART helps participants gain better insight and judgment from other people’s perspectives. Understanding different insights are essential in improving self-awareness and learning how to think before acting out.
- Acknowledging responsibility: Another main part of ART is teaching participants how to take responsibility for their own emotions and behavior. This helps participants avoid blame in the future and learn how to take control of their behavior.
How ART Can Help
Anger replacement therapy is a great option for those looking to recover from problematic, aggressive behavior patterns. If you or your loved one is struggling with anger management as a symptom of substance use issues, consider receiving treatment from a rehab facility that offers ART as a specialized program. ART can be the key to helping you successfully manage your anger and an SUD.
Even if substance use issues are not yet present, aggression is a risk factor and predictor of substance-using behaviors. Therefore, it is essential to get the help you need to heal from any problematic behavior and substance-using patterns present in your life.
Anger often co-occurs with substance use problems, as aggressive behavior tends to follow the same pattern as that of problematic substance use. When choosing a treatment program, it is essential to locate a program that specializes in anger management. One popular anger management program is known as anger replacement therapy (ART), also known as aggression replacement training. ART has three training components- social skills, anger control, and moral reasoning- that make it an effective intervention to help clients identify and overcome aggressive behaviors. Vanity Wellness Center is an outpatient treatment center that treats individuals struggling with addictive behaviors and substance use problems. We offer ART in combination with many other cognitive and behavioral therapy approaches to ensure treatment success for our clients. We also utilize a holistic therapy approach to provide whole-person treatment. To learn more about anger management or for more about our treatment facility, call us at (866) 587-1737.