An impulse is a sudden urge to act. Often, impulsivity causes little harm. At other times impulsive behavior can be intense, out of the ordinary and uncontrollable.

For people new to sobriety, life can be challenging enough. An impulse control issue just makes recovery that much harder — but there is help.

Impulse control disorder, ICD, is a serious condition that can be harmful to the person with the condition as well as those around them. Often, ICD surfaces as pyromania, excessive hair pulling, skin-picking and substance abuse.

Trichotillomania is just one example. Trichotillomania is an uncontrollable impulse to pull out their hair at the root. There are variations. Sometimes the person eats their hair once it’s pulled out.

Before someone responds, “This is totally false. I never did this.” Remember, you’re not the only person trying to get and stay sober. For thousands of people, these are real issues and the fact that you haven’t suffered through doesn’t mean no one has.

If you notice your impulsivity has gotten out of control, here are six steps to help you take charge:

Professional Treatment

Finding professional help is the best way to deal with ICD. To curb impulse control issues, professionals often choose cognitive behavioral treatment. For severe cases, including pyromania, trichotillomania, and over-the-top rage, therapy is definitely called for.


Talk to your physician and request information for options. The FDA has not approved, yet, any medicines for treating impulse control disorder. Some studies show that antidepressant medicines may have some success in improving the affliction.


Fill your body with proper nutrients. Protein-rich foods provide L-cysteine, an amino acid which assists in decreasing the impulsive behaviors. Beef liver, almosts, and bananas are excellent sources for L-cysteine.


Be resourceful and do some research. Alongside professional therapy, take the time to educated yourself about the disorder and the various treatment options available. You can take responsibility and do what you need outside of therapy to manage the impulse. Research the variety of techniques used by therapists and give them a try.


Sleep problems often interfere with the ability to exercise self-control. Insufficient sleep can lead to being cranky and unfocused. A sleep schedule where you are in bed at the same time each night and wake up each morning is beneficial.

Play the Tape

Do you have ICD? Remind yourself to “play the tape” through. Imagine the sequences of events which transpire if you act on your impulses. It may seem difficult, and effort will need to be made, but eventually you can become conscious of your actions’ consequences.

While there is are various  therapies that have are accessible to persons seeking a way to cope with and manage ICDs,  there is still a lot to learn about the disorder. Its trigger and causes are still in the midst of research