Renaissance Ranch

Developing Impulse Control in Recovery

Dec 21, 2021

Impulsivity is a part of the human experience. We are all impulsive about certain things, individual to each of us. People with a history of mental illness or substance use disorder (SUD) often have more difficulty controlling their impulses. As you enter recovery, you will learn your impulsivity with certain behaviors created some of your problems. 

According to the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus, “impulsive” is synonymous with “hasty,” “rash,” “impetuous,” and “spontaneous.” Impulsive behavior is unplanned, not thought out, and can lead to unpleasant consequences.

Part of recovery involves learning how to control your impulses. Controlling your impulses results in better relationships, a stronger work ethic, and pride in your character. Being in control of your behaviors is a critical tool in a sustainable recovery.

Lack of Impulse Control Can Lead to Relapse

When you struggle with the stress of life and the shame of your past, avoiding using alcohol and/or other substances seems difficult. Without learning impulse control, relapse is a real possibility. However, relapse does not have to occur. Using the coping skills you learn in recovery can help you control your impulses and avoid using alcohol and/or other substances at that moment.

You are not weak if you struggle with impulse control. As explained earlier, impulsivity is a part of human nature. Refusing our impulses is difficult but can be learned. 

Start Small

You can implement impulse control in small ways. In the beginning stages of recovery, impulses are easier to control when you can eliminate triggers. Avoiding triggering people, places, and things is one of the first steps to developing impulse control. Avoid that gas station or that aisle in the store. If you can avoid the trigger, you will learn the power of self-control.

As you continue in recovery, you will have to start operating your impulse control in more significant situations. Knowing your weaknesses and reflecting on your day helps you understand how to manage the next day with even greater self-control — starting small leads to even greater impulse control. Asking for help and accountability from your friends and family will also help you.

4 Dimensions of Recovery

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there are four dimensions to recovery: Health, Home, Purpose, and Community. In each of these areas, you need impulse control.

#1. Impulse Control in Health

Your health is critical to your recovery. Making healthy decisions about your life and body will assist you in controlling impulses. When you are hungry, angry, sick, or tired, you tend to give in to impulses and react rashly instead of thinking through your decisions. Therefore, take care of your body. Eat well when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired. Seek help when sick and give yourself space when emotionally stressed. Healthy living is critical to abstain from unhealthy impulses.

#2. Impulse Control at Home

When you live closely with others, you know each other’s weaknesses and strengths. You must also cope with problems, not necessarily your own. However, having this immediate source of a community can help you learn impulse control. You may have engaged in destructive relationships or fought with significant others previously. However, in recovery, you learn to listen and healthily engage with others. As you learn how to engage healthily, you learn impulse control in your conversations and how to connect with others, which gives you support in those moments of struggle. 

#3. Impulse Control in Finding Your Purpose

As you pursue recovery, you will find yourself seeking a purpose for your life. Getting feedback from others and reflecting on your abilities will help you identify this purpose. When an opportunity arises, reflect on your ability to handle the stress. You must honestly evaluate your reasons for wanting to seek the opportunity and newfound purpose. You are capable of many things, but being impulsive about purpose will leave you frustrated by your perceived limitations and more likely to relapse. You must carefully consider your goal and be consistent in seeking what you want to ensure your success in recovery. 

#4. Impulse Control in Community

Avoiding people who trigger you is imperative in the beginning stages of recovery. Finding a community of like-minded individuals is necessary for you to feel connected to others. Having connectivity provides you with support and accountability. This support and accountability will help you evaluate your decisions and eliminate some impulsivity.

Recovery is multidimensional and requires great self-control when faced with stressors. SAMHSA provides more information on recovery support here. At Renaissance Ranch, we believe in helping you discover impulse control through community and family treatment. See more about our treatment options here

Impulse control is critical to overcoming addiction to alcohol and/or other substances. Choose now to overcome your impulses and seek the life you want. 

Developing impulse control is a critical component to sustainable recovery from addiction to alcohol and/or other substances. Relapse often occurs when you are struggling to cope with stressors and the impulse to use arises. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, help is available. You do not need to struggle alone. At Renaissance Ranch, we believe in the power of the individual to overcome impulses. We believe in your ability to have a full life without alcohol and/or other substances. Renaissance Ranch offers clinically driven and gospel-centered treatment for every step of the recovery process. Whether you are deciding to enter treatment or in active recovery, we offer support from detox to aftercare in sober living and through our Band of Brothers alumni network. You deserve the life you desire. Contact us at Renaissance Ranch at (801) 308-8898 and learn how we can help you overcome your impulsive behaviors.