The Power of Anger

The big book of Alcoholics Anonymous describes resentment in fairly bleak and stark terms. It says that resentment destroys more alcoholics than anything else and goes on to say that from it ( resentment) stem all forms of spiritual disease.

Some people can get quite obsessive about the distinction between the words anger and resentment and whether there is any real difference. If you are living with a level of anger that is effectively destroying you, then if there is any difference it is probably a subtle one.

Any alcoholic entering rehab or a treatment center or seeking help for the first time for their problem with alcohol is highly likely to also be extremely angry. This is simply a practical observation of how alcoholism can tend to destroy a persons inner world, whilst at the same time making them believe that alcohol is actually the only thing in their life that is worth saving.

The reality of getting sober and staying sober for many people is that they have to begin to have time to turn around this sense of darkness that is effectively their inner world. For many people this is a fairly daunting prospect, and part of the nature of a rehab or treatment center is to provide a safe environment, that is nonthreatening, and can allow an individual a degree of emotional time and space to begin to realise the nature of their problem.

The potential danger with any type of rehab or treatment center lies in their setting boundaries.

This is a dual edged problem that a good rehab should be able to accommodate. There is a real sense that the nature of alcoholism destroys boundaries in relationships, families, in homes, in the workplace and generally anywhere where the alcoholic is present.

This is part of the logic that a rehab will use to establish a large number of very specific rules about admission into the rehab, about the structure of daily life in a rehab and about the way the individual lives their life whilst in rehab.

Whilst the structure may provide a degree of discipline, for many alcoholics the very sense of being so tightly controlled will seem highly oppressive, and will either put them off going into rehab, or make the experience of being in a treatment center feel very controlling.


No one should underestimate the level of anger that may exist in an alcoholic who is trying to get sober and stay sober.

This anger may manifest itself at a day-to-day level, and may well be a mix of inner child anger and current day life pressures.

Whatever the causes and whatever way the alcoholic chooses to process that emotional instability, once they have left rehab, the key element in their recovery will be a felt knowledge and understanding that in order to stay sober they have to learn to live with themselves sober.

This internal pressure will in some way drive them to seek solutions to their emotional imbalance, hopefully solutions that are healthy and healing as opposed to alcohol or any other destructive way out.