A person with an impulse control disorder doesn’t feel in control of what would be considered normal behavior. This may to lead a substance abuse disorder.

Effects of Substance Abuse on Impulse Control Disorder Symptoms

Most people associate substance use with impulsive behavior, so it may not be surprising to learn that substance use can exacerbate the symptoms of impulse control disorders. A person’s ability to control their impulses and choose not to engage in the behavior may diminish while using substances. Depending on the drug used, other symptoms can intensify such as aggression.

Impulse Control Disorder and Alcohol

Liquid courage is often the name given to alcohol due to the inhibition-lowering effects. People under the influence of alcohol are significantly more likely to act impulsively without thinking through their actions.

Marijuana Abuse and Impulse Control Disorder

Marijuana use may lower inhibitions and impair decision making. Further, unlike some other substances, the impaired decision making may last beyond the time of intoxication. Chronic marijuana use can lead to changes in the brain’s decision-making system. People who frequently use marijuana may face a high risk of developing an impulse control disorder.

Impulse Control Disorder and Stimulants

The use of stimulants may increase the acting on an impulse control disorder urge. Stimulants often increase feelings of tension and anxiety. Stimulants may increase the urge to engage in specific behaviors, and urges can range from mild to irresistible. People with impulse control disorders may experience frequent acting on impulsive urges if they frequently use stimulants.

Statistics on Impulse Control Disorder and Drug Abuse

Impulse control disorders are rare among the general population. For some impulse control disorders, such as pyromania, substance use cannot be present during the impulsive behavior to receive this diagnosis. However, if substance use while indulging in the impulsive behavior did not automatically rule out a diagnosis of impulse control disorder, the prevalence of diagnosed impulse control disorders would likely increase.

Drug Abuse as a Cause of Impulse Control Disorder

The brain does not fully develop until a person is in their mid-20s. When a person frequently uses drugs or alcohol before this point, the substances can cause damage and stunted growth of regions in the brain that controls their impulses.

The increased difficulty with mood regulation, decision-making abilities and faulty pleasure receptors are a few of the changes in the brain that may result from early substance use and may increase when first used at a young age, the frequency of use or amount used. For these reasons, substance use early in life may not only be a contributing factor in developing a substance use disorder but also may be related to the development of an impulse control disorder.

Drug Abuse as a Hinderance to Impulse Control Disorder Treatment

Rates of consistent treatment for substance use disorders are lower than those of other disorders. The nature of substance use disorders makes a person less likely to follow through with decisions, have poor planning skills and engage in self-destructive behaviors. For people with a co-occurring mental health condition like impulse control disorder, these traits may be even more pronounced. Impulsive behavior is a hallmark feature of both conditions, which may lead to missing appointments, noncompliance with medication management and other forms of treatment disengagement.

If you or a loved one struggles with drug addiction and a co-occurring issue like impulse control disorder, The Recovery Village can help. Our treatment centers are located across the country and can provide you with the kind of care you need to leave addiction behind. To learn more about co-occurring disorder treatment through The Recovery Village, call 877-427-7401 today. The telephone call is toll-free and completely confidential, and you don’t have to commit to a program to learn more about rehab. A healthier life may be closer than you think. Reach out today to get started with comprehensive addiction treatment.

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Editor – Camille Renzoni
Cami Renzoni is a creative writer and editor for The Recovery Village. As an advocate for behavioral health, Cami is certified in mental health first aid and encourages people who face substance use disorders to ask for the help they deserve. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Denise-Marie Griswold, LCAS
Denise-Marie Griswold is a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist. She earned her Master's Degree in Substance Abuse and Clinical Counseling from East Carolina University in 2014. Read more
Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.