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Chronic Impulsivity and Addiction

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Chronic Impulsivity

It’s impossible to be in in complete control of yourself 100% of the time. Most of us lack some self control in areas of our lives. It’s part of the human condition to act out of impulse from time to time. Examples include an angry outburst, or overly indulging during dessert, or even impulsively buying that pair of shoes that you don’t need. These occasional impulsive acts usually don’t have a large influence, however if done repeatedly, there can be large negative impacts. Chronic impulsivity is a severe lack of self control and occurs when individuals constantly struggle with impulse control.


Chronic Impulsivity can take on many forms, such as, difficulty controlling immediate reactions, trouble concentrating and completing tasks, and interrupting conversations. Often times, those who struggle with being impulsive, have a difficult time considering consequences of actions. This continuing lack of self control can have profound effects on lives in many ways. For example, someone struggling with chronic impulsivity experience difficulty learning in classrooms and may struggle to move through the education system. Or perhaps, someone may affect their health negatively through impulsive eating.


Some causes of chronic impulsivity vary from poor modeling during childhood to other psychiatric disorders. Males are often times more likely to struggle with chronic impulsivity than females. Chronic impulsivity is not necessarily a mental illness, however it is considered a disorder in the DSM and is a characteristic of many mental illnesses. Impulse control disorders include kleptomania, pyromania, and intermittent explosive disorder. Chronic impulsive behavior is commonly seen in OCD, ADD, ADHD, BPD, ODD, Conduct Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and more. Most of the time those struggling with chronic impulsivity are diagnosed with another mental illness. Impulse control disorders frequently occur with issues involving substance abuse. A lack of impulse control can lead to substance abuse and substance abuse can lead to a lack of impulse control; at one point were even considered in the same category of the DSM. Additionally, similar regions of the brain may be involved in both impulse disorders and substance abuse.


Those who struggle with impulsivity are vulnerable to many negative experiences such as anxiety, low self esteem, anger, depression, dysfunctional relationships, etc. Whether or not chronic impulsivity is the main issue for someone, it is imperative that it is addressed and explored. It’s important to explore whether the lack of impulse control is a symptom of another mental illness like OCD or an indicator of an impulse control disorder.


Therapy and medication can help alleviate the effects of chronic impulsivity and can prevent impulses from happening. A therapist can help an individual understand the root of their impulsivity, develop coping skills to curb impulsive behaviors, and improve self esteem. There is no cure for chronic impulsivity however treatment and recovery is always possible.



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