In recovery, impulsivity may be a threat to your sobriety maintenance. This may be especially difficult if you consider yourself to have a rebellious nature. Acting impulsively can lead to poor decision-making and, in some cases, relapse. By learning how to control these impulsive behaviors, you set yourself up for long-lasting sobriety.
The Role of Impulsive Behaviors in Addiction
Before exploring strategies for managing impulsivity, it is essential to understand what impulsivity is and the role it plays in the addiction cycle.
Impulsivity is the urge or tendency to act without thinking through the consequences of your decisions or without regard for yourself or others. This may include engaging in risky behaviors, making hasty decisions, or disregarding personal safety when acting without thought.
Unfortunately, impulsivity can take many forms in addiction. For example, you may feel an urge to use drugs or alcohol even if doing so would harm your health or compromise your sobriety. Additionally, when substances impair your judgment, you may be more likely to engage in impulsive behaviors that put you in hazardous situations. You may have driven under the influence or stolen to support your addiction. Your impulsive behaviors may have had consequences for your health or gotten you in trouble with the law.
How to Control Your Impulsive Behaviors
No matter the form impulsivity takes in your addiction, it’s essential to acknowledge that impulsivity can be challenging to overcome. However, it is possible and worthwhile to overcome impulsivity. With the right strategies and tools in place, you can learn to manage impulsive urges and take control of your recovery with Dream Recovery.
#1. Identify the Triggers for Your Impulsive Behaviors
One of the first steps in managing impulsivity is to recognize your triggers. Triggers are situations, people, or emotions that can cause an impulsive response. For example, visiting a bar where you used to drink may trigger intense cravings alcohol and make it difficult to resist use.
By understanding your triggers, you can begin to anticipate situations in which impulsive behaviors may occur. Acknowledging these situations allows you to avoid them when you can and develop strategies for managing impulses when a trigger is unavoidable. For example, if social situations tend to trigger you, perhaps avoiding them altogether or bringing along a sober friend with you for extra support can keep you accountable.
#2. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a technique that involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Through mindfulness, you become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and impulses, which helps you manage them more effectively.
One way to practice mindfulness is through meditation. Meditation involves sitting quietly and focusing on your breath, allowing thoughts to come and go without becoming attached to them. Over time, you will become more attuned to your thought patterns and be able to recognize when an impulse arises.
Another way to practice mindfulness is by engaging in activities that require your full focus. Yoga, art, or exercise are great examples. By keeping your focus on the present moment, you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions. This helps you learn to manage your emotional life more effectively. If you find that an irrational thought is pushing you, try engaging in some of these activities to ground yourself before making a decision.
#3. Use the 10-10-10 Rule
One effective strategy for controlling impulsivity is the 10-10-10 rule. This involves taking a step back and asking yourself three questions before acting on an impulse:
- What impact will this decision have in 10 minutes? In 10 months? And in 10 years?
By taking time to reflect on the repercussions of your choices, you can make a more informed decision. This can help you avoid negative consequences from impulsive behaviors. The 10-10-10 rule is a great method for assessing the behavior you are considering. Often, you will find that a behavior’s consequences are not worth it.
#4. Self-Reflect Before Undertaking Impulsive Behaviors
Self-reflection is an integral component of managing impulsivity during recovery. By taking time to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, you can gain a better insight into what triggers your impulses. This can help you create strategies for controlling them effectively.
One effective technique for practicing self-reflection is keeping a journal. Writing down your thoughts and feelings helps you process difficult emotions and recognize patterns in your behavior. Journaling provides an accountability record of progress as well as areas where work still needs to be done on managing impulses.
#5. Consider Medication-Assisted Treatment
In some cases, medication can be beneficial in managing impulsivity. Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications regulate mood and reduce impulsivity. It is essential to work closely with a healthcare provider to ensure any medication is used safely and effectively. Dream Recovery typically utilizes medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help with managing withdrawal symptoms. However, medication can help people manage high levels of impulsivity as well.
You Can Overcome Impulsive Behaviors
Impulsivity management is an essential aspect of addiction recovery. Take control of your impulses and set yourself up for success in your long-term sobriety maintenance.
It is okay to question your decisions at times and truly think about the effects they may have. If you find that impulsivity is a struggle for you, discuss further options with your therapist and treatment team at Dream Recovery.
Through recovery, it is essential to learn how to control impulsive behaviors. Whether it’s saying “no” to a drink or resisting the urge to use drugs, managing your impulses is key to achieving lasting sobriety. If you find that you are struggling to control impulsive behaviors, implement techniques to overcome this today. With mindfulness, coping strategies, and self-reflection, you can take control of your impulses and set yourself up for success in recovery. Don’t let impulsivity hold you back from living the life you deserve. To learn more about how to overcome impulsive behaviors and stay on track to success in your sobriety maintenance, reach out to Dream Recovery today at (657) 216-7218.