Impulse control disorder treatment can be difficult as there are few approved treatments. However, treatments for impulse control disorder exist, and there is hope for reducing or eliminating symptoms. Every person’s treatment plan will vary based on the identified impulse control and other factors such as whether the person is already on medication. For people who develop an impulse control disorder after beginning treatment for Parkinson’s disease, the treating medication may change. For other individuals, a new medication may be added to help with impulse control disorder symptoms.
Medications for Impulse Control Disorder
There are no medications for impulse control disorder. Despite the lack of medication, several medications are used off-label to treat impulse control disorders.
Antidepressants can treat irritability associated with impulse control disorders. Antidepressants may be a viable treatment option for the urge to engage in impulsive behavior characterized by growing irritability and agitation.
Mood stabilizers have the least clinical evidence of successful treatment of impulse control disorders, but some people have experienced positive benefits from these medications. A mood stabilizer may reduce the intensity of the anxious feeling that causes a person to act on an impulse.
The medication naltrexone reduces drug cravings in people with substance use disorders. Some people with impulse control disorders may benefit from this medication, and it may also reduce the craving or urge to engage in an impulsive behavior.
Atypical neuroleptics are newer alternatives to first-generation antipsychotics, sometimes called typical neuroleptics. These medications have fewer side effects and are better tolerated. Atypical neuroleptics work by blocking brain chemicals which contribute to the experience of finding the impulsive behavior rewarding.
N-acetyl cysteine, or NAC, has been used in people with substance use disorders similar to opioid antagonists. If an opioid antagonist causes a negative interaction with another medication, or if the body cannot tolerate it, NAC may be a possible alternative.
Therapy Options for Impulse Control Disorder
Habit Reversal Therapy
Habit reversal training has been beneficial when treating people with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Habit reversal therapy may also be helpful for a person with an impulse control disorder to pinpoint when an impulsive action is about to occur and replace the behavior with a less harmful one.
Treating Impulse Control Disorder with Co-Occurring Substance Abuse
Previously, impulse control disorders and substance use disorders were both categorized as addictive disorders. There are many differences and similarities between substance use disorders and impulse control disorders. The similarities are one reason these disorders often co-occur. Both disorders are disorders of poor self-control and self-destructive behaviors. When both are present, it is imperative to treat both disorders.
Impulse Control Disorder and Addiction
The causes of addiction and impulse control disorder are often related and, in some cases, both disorders link back to the same causal factor. For example, the earlier a person begins to experiment with substance use, the more likely they are to develop a substance use disorder. Using substances before the brain fully develops links to changes in the brain, which increase the risk of developing impulse control disorders. No matter which disorder occurred first, it is important to treat co-occurring impulse control and addiction disorders together. Specific treatments guide the specific impulse control and addiction disorders symptoms experienced by the individual. Many of the treatment protocols are the same for both disorders. For that reason, there is little change in treatment approach when the disorders occur together. Some of these treatment options include cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness and medication management.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use and co-occurring disorder like impulse control disorder, help is available. At The Recovery Village, a team of professionals establishes an individualized treatment plan for patients with a substance use and co-occurring disorder. Call and speak with a representative to learn more about which treatment program could work for you.