Modifying the risk associated with an impulsive temperament: A prospective study of drug dependence treatment
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The evidence linking the personality trait of impulsivity and substance misuse is well established. Importantly, impulsivity not only predicts substance misuse problems but has an association with duration in treatment, likelihood of completing treatment and time to relapse. Treatment that focuses on increasing awareness and acceptance of thoughts and emotions may potentially address impulsive behaviour and in this respect improve treatment outcomes for substance misuse. The current paper investigated the relationship between the facet of impulsivity that taps into poor inhibitory control and treatment outcome. In addition, there was a specific focus on ascertaining the impact of an increase in awareness and attentional control measured in 144 adult substance users receiving treatment in a residential therapeutic community. Impulsivity predicted poorer treatment outcome (measured as drug use severity). Increases in awareness and acceptance of emotions and thoughts during treatment were related to better outcome although this was not associated with baseline levels of impulsivity. Clinical and theoretical implications are discussed.
Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology