Resentment as a Key Contributor to Relapse

Resentment as a Key Contributor to Relapse

An important aspect of any relapse prevention program is the ability to understand and identify the precursors to relapse. While many factors could be looked at in more depth, we can turn our attention one of the more insidious and sneaky factors which creates disharmony within ourselves, namely, resentments. Resentment, for the purposes of this discussion, can be defined as anger, frustration, or rage that cannot be expressed. Because of the nature of anger, it is not an emotion that is generally acceptable to express outwardly within our society. While expressing anger isn’t always healthy, or for that matter kind, its affects when not allowed to be expressed in one form or another can become catastrophic over time. The danger of resentment is that it can go largely unnoticed until it has created so much internal toxicity that it needs to either be released, or often times in the case of the recovering addict, it can turn inward and manifest as hatred towards ourselves. In either case, if we allow resentments to build to the point where they can no longer remain dormant, they often find expression in the form of relapse.

In order to protect ourselves against resentments, we need to learn ways in which we can express our anger and frustration in a manner that is acceptable in a social context so that we respect these feelings and attend to their “needs”. We can put this into practice daily by keeping ourselves aware of times when anger begins to bubble up below the surface. The natural impulse when we begin to experience anger is to shut it down because this is how we were socialized. As addicts in recovery, however, we cannot afford to continue using the same tactics that we used in our more immature state lest we want to risk the building of resentment and the subsequent consequences that follow. Learning to express our anger in a manner that is healthy is also no easy task as it requires mindfulness, patience and humility, but like all new behaviors and perspectives that we work to adopt in sobriety, nothing worth working for comes easily. It is certainly better to risk feeling awkward or silly as we work to express our anger when it is initially experienced as opposed to stuffing it down and hoping that the inevitable explosion doesn’t consume us and our sobriety. Finally, we can incorporate a resentment list in our daily inventories as a way to ensure we stay aware of our anger and resentments so that we can ensure that we are less likely to avoid relapse, and more prone to continue growing in our recovery.


Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California is a premier men’s addiction treatment facility that uses eight different modalities to help our men become the best versions of themselves they can be. We teach our men that every day of their journey is something to celebrate, and that recovery isn’t a sprint– it’s a marathon. To get started with Tree House Recovery, call us today at (855) 202-2138.

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