Whether you are newly clean and sober, or have been sober for months and even decades, the impulse to pick up a substance will remain. The hard truth is, once an alcoholic or addict, always an alcoholic or addict. The good news is, you can learn to control this adverse impulse.
Impulsivity is defined as one’s inability to control or resist an impulsive whim or action. When someone is impulsive, they don’t think ahead about the consequences of their actions. Impulsivity is directly related to substance abuse. Research shows that people who abuse more than one substance on a habitual basis have greater susceptibility to impulsivity. However, not everyone who picks up a drug or drink will become addicted.
The ability to foster impulse control is located in the prefrontal cortex. Damage done to this part of the brain, as in head trauma, can lead to a loss in inhibitions similar to the changes in the brain due to alcohol and drug addiction. Substance abuse increases the effects of the neurotransmitters, dopamine and gamma-amino butyric acid. Both of these are responsible for impulsivity.
Skill building and fortifying impulse control is simple, and, it takes strength and commitment. You simply don’t take the substance for one day. The next day you do the same, and so forth. Each day you resist taking the substance will help your brain to restore its natural balance. Your brain will be paving a new path, and each time you walk on it, the impulse to veer off will diminish.
Another skill to improve your impulse control is strategy building. Make a plan ahead of time, so when you are faced with a situation that triggers you impulsivity, you are prepared. At the top of your impulse control plan ought to be a thought process of risks and rewards. What if I just have one pill? What if I just have one drink? Where will that lead me? Oh, probably I’ll have another, and another. If I don’t pick up, what will my reward be? More self-confidence, more self-esteem, and another day clean and sober with so many positive opportunities ahead of me—a no brainer—I’m not picking up! Please be mindful that an integral component of impulse control includes having a strong support system.
“Self-control is the chief element in self-respect, and self-respect is the chief element in courage.” —Thucydides
Holistic therapies, area nature preserves, and the healing power of the nearby ocean complement our scientifically proven treatment program at Infinity Malibu. We offer skill building for recovery, like impulse control—a real lifesaver. Let us help you find your new path. Call 855-608-8495 today!