Problems with impulsiveness
July 30, 2008 6:41 PM   Subscribe

Other than medication, what can I do for my impulsiveness problem?

It has recently been pointed out to me that I am extremely impulsive. This impulsiveness has been a bad combination with alcohol and so I am attempting to do without that right now in order to at least take away a damaging symptom and give myself a clearer head.

(Sidenote: I'm not sure what role alcohol plays in all this but I certainly have a problem with over serving myself that borders on compulsive.)

Anti-depressants, namely prozac, worked on my impulsive behaviors in the past, but I'm currently unemployed and have no health insurance. Thus, I cannot afford drugs or therapy and am looking for an alternative.

Any Mefites struggled with this problem?

Also, is there some sort of impulsiveness meter/scale that therapists use?
posted by josher71 to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Has ADHD been ruled out?
posted by desjardins at 6:42 PM on July 30, 2008

Response by poster: It has not. The person that pointed out the impulsiveness problem also said she thought it might be related to ADHD. However, she is not a mental health professional so I'm not sure how much creedence to give that.
posted by josher71 at 6:58 PM on July 30, 2008

Best answer: Might want to pick up a copy of Driven to Distraction and see if it describes you, then. If so, there are ways to manage ADHD, but drugs are really the most effective. (I am not a mental health professional either, but I do live with an adult with ADHD and impulsive is definitely a good word for him.)
posted by desjardins at 7:04 PM on July 30, 2008

Assuming you want to go the what-has-worked-before route, and can find a physician/clinic/etc for a script: There are a number of generic SSRIs, including Prozac (aka fluoxetine) on Walmart's $4 list.
posted by gnomeloaf at 7:13 PM on July 30, 2008

Best answer: Prozac has a generic available (fluoxetine). Since you've been prescribed prozac before with success, you should be able to go to a free clinic and get another prescription. If you have a Walgreens nearby, they have a Prescription Savings Club you can join, which will get you a 90-day supply of fluoxetine for about $13.
posted by granted at 7:18 PM on July 30, 2008

Rats! So my contributions here aren't totally redundant, I think reading up on mindfulness training/meditation might be helpful for you, too.
posted by granted at 7:19 PM on July 30, 2008

Someone once said to me, " you know the best way to quit smoking?" "Quit smoking." Simple and easy are not the same. Don't look for more distractions.
posted by Flying Squirrel at 8:56 PM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Make a commitment to yourself that you will not engage in impulsive decisions for, say, the next three months. Then, share that commitment with a friend you can trust to encourage you, support you, and gently call you on it if you sometimes do it anyway.

You might want to identify the areas of your life where impulsive behavior worries you most, so you can focus, and notice yourself making changes. Seeing your behavior change can give you momentum to keep changing. So you could focus on shopping, say, and eating junk food, and you've already cut out drinking. Your commitment could be, "I won't have any alcohol, I won't have any junk food, and I won't do any shopping except grocery shopping, until I've sat down and thought about it." Tell your friend that this is your promise to yourself.

Now, if you're driving home from work and pass a burger joint and find yourself turning in at the drive-through, you'll remember that commitment, and you'll reluctantly drive around past the drive-through and continue on your way back home. While you're making and eating your healthy dinner, you can contemplate whether you want some junk food this week, and if so, how much, and when. Then, if you choose to indulge in that, it will be based on something other than giving in to your impulses.

It's a matter of mindfulness and slowing down enough to change your habits. (At least, to the extent that it's not chemical-related. Since medication has helped you before, you may want to look into some of the other suggestions above, too.)

I just saw a blog post about a woman who's trying to cut way back on family spending, just as a way to be more mindful.

Choosing to make the extra time to ask yourself "Is this what I REALLY want?" when you make everyday decisions is a wonderful opportunity to be more mindful and bring your own values more fully into your daily life. Making a commitment to avoid spur-of-the-moment decisions gives you that extra time.
posted by kristi at 9:25 PM on July 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Flying Squirrel, the difference to me is that with smoking it is a very easy binary. Smoke/Don't smoke. With impulsiveness, I'm often not even aware that I'm being impulsive with my behavior. I'm 34 and it was very recently that this personality trait was brought up to me at all. I'd never thought about it on my own at all.
posted by josher71 at 6:23 AM on July 31, 2008

You struggle against it, constantly. Meditation might help.
posted by phrontist at 6:49 AM on July 31, 2008

Some people get SSRI affects from OTC 5-HTP. It can usually be found in the vitamin isle in your local drugstore.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:21 AM on July 31, 2008

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