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Could Impulsivity Predict Addiction?

Could Impulsivity Predict Addiction?

April 15, 2018
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As the war with opioids and addiction rages on in America, people often want to look for reasons why addiction afflicts some and not others. Many stereotypes have evolved in the wake of this fear to suggest that addicts have a lot in common. However, with more studies, research and stories being published, we can now understand that addicts come from every race, creed, sexual orientation, gender, socioeconomic status and more. However, we can say with some confidence that there is a genetic element to the disease of addiction, a quite strong one.
So what is the commonality to addiction besides the genetic component? Are there any personality traits that can perhaps predict addiction? Well, studies are starting to say yes. The trait that is most often associated with addiction is impulsivity. Perhaps this is not surprising as one could fathom that more impulsive people tend to drink and do drugs more frequently and at greater levels than those who are not. However, impulsivity can show up in a number of ways.
One such is that people of a more impulsive nature tend to choose the small, quick reward in comparison to one that is delayed, but larger. This represents the hardship that is experienced when addicts try to overcome the delay of not getting what they want. However, it also represents the importance of overcoming this barrier and rewiring your brain to less need momentary gratification and rewards.
So do other people besides addicts experience impulsivity? Absolutely. Impulsivity is just quick, momentary reactions to internal or external stimuli, often with consequences that are unplanned. Certainly this is a behavior everyone can empathize with, even if doesn’t apply directly to drugs or alcohol. Everyone has things they find themselves doing that they perhaps did not plan. Eating an extra doughnut, buying something we can’t afford, etc. The impulsivity manifested in any of these behaviors represents the cruz of addiction.
So if we know a factor that generates addiction do we know the solution? Well, we may have a place to start. We can now identify resisting impulse as a barrier that addicts must face in order to have long-term recovery. However, this pattern is often hard to break, especially for those who prefer short-term, in comparison to long-term, gains.
However, it is also a factor that at different times in our life we experience impulsivity waning and waxing. Namely, people are more impulsive in their youth and less so in their older years.
With this information in mind, it can be determined that impulsivity is often a prerequisite to addictive behavior and could be quite definitely used as both a screening mechanism and a barrier to cross in terms of future addiction treatment. If you or someone you know is in need of researched, compassionate treatment, look no further than Recovery Care Partner.