Impulse Control Disorder and Addiction

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Addiction, also referred to as substance use disorder, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), as a chronic brain disorder. It is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli (e.g. abusing drugs and/ or alcohol) without regard for consequence. An individual that struggles with addiction will prioritize satisfying his or her drug cravings above all else, which can affect all areas of his or her life. Obligations can fall by the wayside when an individual struggles with addiction, leading to relationship fractures, financial hardship, legal complications, and more. Addiction is a mental disorder and when active, essentially renders an individual unable to exert control over his or her substance-abusing compulsions. 

Impulse Control Disorder

According to the Psychiatric Times, “impulse control disorders are common psychiatric conditions in which affected individuals typically report significant impairment in social and occupational functioning, and may incur legal and financial difficulties as well.” Psychiatric Times goes on to explain that the primary features of impulse control disorders are as follows:

  • Repetitive engagement in a behavior despite negative consequences 
  • Inability to fully control the problematic behavior
  • Performing problematic behavior to release pressure or to feel pressure
  • Experiencing strong urges or cravings to engage in the problematic behavior

There are five different standalone impulse control disorders, each with distinct characteristics, which are:   

  1. Kleptomania: characterized by an inability to control the impulse or urge to steal superfluous, unneeded and/ or meaningless items
  2. Pyromania: characterized by an inability to control the impulse to set fires
  3. Intermittent explosive disorder: characterized by an inability to control the impulse to respond in rage to minor triggers 
  4. Pathological gambling: characterized by an inability to control the impulse to gamble
  5. Trichotillomania: characterized by an inability to resist the impulse to pull out one’s hair 

An unspecified impulse control disorder is diagnosed when an individual exhibits general signs and symptoms of an impulse control disorder, but whose signs and symptoms do not fall into any of the above categories. There is a common misconception that addiction is an impulse control disorder (ICD). Though impulse control is a key feature in substance use disorder, addiction is not explicitly categorized as an impulse control disorder. Hence, when an individual that has an impulse control disorder as well as substance use disorder he or she has a dual diagnosis. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-318-3777. You are also welcome to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.

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