About 40% of clients in anger management have addiction problems, mostly alcohol. Traditionally addiction has been dealt with through twelve step programs. This means that recovering addicts treat addicts and the medical profession has steered clear. Now addiction is being defined as a brain disorder meaning that the medical profession is interested and developing new drugs, specifically for addictions to help reduce cravings. Harm reduction has been around for heroin addicts to switch to methadone. Treatment centres are now more willing to have drugs as part of treatment.
Brain disorders focus on the dopamine circuits which get damaged with too much addiction leading to the cravings for more, yet the fundamentals of the emotional and spiritual damage is the same. Addiction is a disease of separation, separation from the self and separation from others and the addictive substance is there to draw people back to some form of connection. The fact that it is counter productive, in that it leads to more not less separation is secondary. That is the constant push/pull that goes on in the addict’s brain going on inside an addict’s brain.
There is a high element of denial with anger management clients as they say they only drink occasionally or just weekends. We ask can they drink safely? And the obvious answer is ‘no’ otherwise they would not have ‘lost it’ in their fights. Calling it a disease may shift the ‘shame ‘ aspect aside as the idea of shame causes much stress and frequently gets in the way of recovery. Addicts don’t realize it but the world wants them to get well.