7 Ways to Address Impulse Control Disorder


Sober Recovery Expert Author

An impulse is a sudden and unreflective urge or desire to act. Sometimes, impulsivity can cause little harm, such as an occasional unplanned shopping spree. Other times, though, impulsive behavior can become quite intense, out of the ordinary, and uncontrollable.

Impulse control disorder (ICD) is a serious psychological condition that may be harmful not only to those who are diagnosed with the condition but also to the people around them. Many times, ICD may come in the form of pyromania, excessive hair pulling, skin-picking, gambling, and substance use and behavioral addictions, among others.

Struggling with impulse control disorder can wreak havoc in one's life. Here are some great ways you can begin to manage symptoms and feel more in control of your impulses.

If you notice that your impulsivity has gotten out of hand, here are 7 steps that may help you take back the wheel.

1. Seek professional treatment.

Seeking professional help is one of the best ways to address ICD. To help curb impulse control problems, professionals may opt for cognitive-behavioral treatment. For extreme conditions, such as pyromania, trichotillomania, and extreme outbursts of rage, extensive therapy may be needed in order to improve behavior.

2. Ask your doctor about prescription medication.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any medications for the treatment of impulse control disorders. In some studies, however, certain anti-depressant medications have shown some successes in improving the condition.

3. Supply your body with the right nutrients.

Protein-rich foods are good sources of L-cysteine, which is a sulfur-containing amino acid that researchers say may assist in decreasing impulsive behavior. Foods such as beef liver, almonds, halibut, and bananas are typically good sources of L-cysteine as they elevate the production of the alpha waves correlated with positive feelings and boosts mental alertness. N-acetylcysteine supplements can also help increase the L-cysteine delivered to your body.

4. Educate yourself.

Along with professional help, you can take time to educate yourself on the disorder and research various treatments that work for other people. This allows you to take responsibility for yourself and do what you can outside of therapy to control your impulses. Learn about various techniques that therapists suggest and give them a try.

5. Improve your sleeping habits.

Sleep problems may interfere with one’s ability to display self-control. Inadequate hours lead to a cranky and unfocused person who may not be able to control urges. It may be beneficial to establish a sleep schedule where you are in bed at the same time every night and out of bed at the same time every morning, aiming for about 8 hours of sleep.

6. Find a good living environment.

A structured environment may also be important to have. Do your best to foster positivity and peace in your surroundings.

7. Play the tape through before taking action.

If you have ICD, you should remind yourself to play the tape all the way through. Imagine the series of events that will transpire if you act on your impulse. As difficult as it may seem, you need to exert the effort to become conscious of the consequences of your decisions.

Help is Available

Depending on your case, you may have to play around with different techniques or take various approaches to see what helps you manage your ICD. If you’ve tried a couple of the non-medical tips above to no avail, it may be a worthwhile thing to consider professional help. Please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 866-606-0182 to start the path to recovery today.

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