How Does Impulse-Control Relate To Addiction?

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

Impulse defintion

Drug abuse and alcoholism are caused by many factors including mental health disorders, self medication, or unresolved past trauma.  There is a growing number of addicts who are compelled to abuse substances and these individuals tend to have problems with impulse control in other areas of life.

Impulse control means that we make decisions without putting too much thought into it and we do not think about the consequences of our actions prior to acting on the behavior.  We all make decisions that we might regret later on such as taking on a new job or moving to a different home.  This does not mean that we are impulsive.  It means that all of us at some point make decisions that maybe we not in our best interest at the time.

Impulse control and addiction means that at some point in our addiction, it was difficult to say no.  We may have tried our first drink or took our first drug with a group of friends where it might have been challenging to resist or say no. Impulse control also affects our ability to stay sober.  When an impulse to use takes over, we have a hard time saying no.  

Over time, if our impulsiveness continues and we find it increasingly difficult to say no to drugs or alcohol, we might become addicted.  Research supports this idea and it is particularly common with college students.  Once we are headed down this path of addiction, we behave impulsively as we do not think about the consequences of our behavior and we make decisions without much thought.

With treatment, we can learn to suppress our impulses and make good choices.  One technique that is commonly used is mindfulness.  Learning to have focus and awareness of our feelings, other people, and unhealthy situations can stop the impulse to drink or use drugs.  We also need to have a solid grasp on our thoughts and be able to stop, listen, and act, which can be learned in treatment.


Your life can change with the right treatment program. Avalon Malibu is a trusted provider for primary mental health and substance use disorders, proudly serving as one of California’s few certified primary mental health treatment facilities. Offering residential treatment, we also provide a full continuum of care. Call us today for a confidential assessment and more information: (888) 958-7511

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