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Intermittent Explosive Disorder and Addiction Concurrent Disorder Treatment

Freedom From Addiction is one of Canada's most innovative recovery facilities, best known for providing individualized and holistic treatment approaches to guide clients towards a life of healing and sobriety. Our team of qualified healthcare professionals and addiction specialists combine their knowledge and expertise to provide a comprehensive treatment plan for anger and addiction present in the form of concurrent disorders.

How Intermittent Explosive Disorder Affects Addiction 

Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) is considered a lesser-known mental health disorder characterized by episodes of unwarranted anger or rage. For individuals diagnosed with IED, the behavioural outbursts can be considered “out of proportion” when compared to the actual situation. Uncontrollable anger and addiction are more deeply related than one might think. According to experts, an individual with IED could use the overwhelming sense of impulsivity to make a poor decision on consuming alcohol or illicit substances. IED can happen to individuals in all age groups, but especially in teens, who are considered the most at risk as they can become adults with disorders triggering anger and addiction. More often than not, the issue can last for years and can result in fatal consequences for themselves, and in more severe cases, for the people close to them. 

Most anger and addiction disorder diagnoses and treatments identify certain triggers, such as family issues, stress, financial issues, and underlying disorders such as alcohol abuse or depression. Experts suggest that IED can begin in childhood, or during teenage years, and can be caused by a combination of environmental, genetic, and biological factors such as brain chemistry. While anger is not technically considered a disorder, it is known as a strong symptom of several persistent mental health conditions.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder Symptoms 

Uncontrolled hostile behaviour and anger bear negative effects on physical and emotional well-being, as it can quickly escalate to physical and verbal violence that may harm the individual and the people close to them. 

An individual diagnosed with IED displays repeated episodes of impulsive, aggressive, or violent behaviour. They tend to feel irritable and angry most of the time and overreact to situations with fits of rage and angry outbursts that are not in proportion to the actual reality of the situation. The “angry” episodes can last less than 30 minutes and may come and go without warning.

The aggressive and impulsive anger episodes can take on many forms, which include:

  • Temper tantrums and rampages
  • Willingness to engage in intense arguments and physical altercations or brawls
  • Physical violence, such as slapping, punching, or shoving
  • Throwing things, punching walls, or breaking things
  • Yelling and shouting
  • Road rage
  • Exclaiming threats to others
  • Damaging property
  • Domestic violence
  • Assault

These anger spells can happen alongside physical symptoms, such as:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Adrenaline rush
  • Head pressure or headache
  • Tightness of the chest
  • Muscle tension
  • Tremors
  • Tingling sensations

Feelings of rage, irritability and loss of control are commonly reported before, or during the anger episodes experienced by individuals with IED. Racing thoughts or a feeling of emotional detachment are also experienced, as well as feelings of remorse and guilt after an episode. The episodes can occur on a regular basis for some, while for others, it can be weeks or month-long intervals of non-aggressive behaviour. Random verbal outbursts may occur between acts of physical aggression or violence.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder and Co-Occurring Disorders 

Having IED can predispose individuals to depression, anxiety, and drug and alcohol abuse, which all lead to severe relationship and personal problems. Because of these reasons, it is vital to seek professional help if you or a loved one shows strong signs of IED. With cognitive behavioural therapy and proper medication, the condition can be managed successfully.

IED can also be diagnosed with other mental illnesses or concurrent disorders, such as:

Anger and addiction are extremely prevalent, for the reason that drug and alcohol use is sought for temporary relief from distressing emotions. Unfortunately, getting under the influence of these addictive substances only exacerbates anger and addiction symptoms, heightening their already uncontrollable emotions, triggering rage and self-destructive tendencies. 

The Importance of Treating IED During Addiction Recovery 

According to recent studies, aggression is highly linked to substance abuse. It is estimated that 1 to 7% of individuals experience IED at some point in their lives. Proper treatment of IED during addiction recovery is crucial, in order to prevent further harm and societal hardships that can occur.

Here are some of the most compelling reasons why:

  • Research shows that IED affects 1 in 10 Canadians every year, making it one of the most experienced mental health concerns in North America
  • People with anger and addiction issues develop impaired relationships with loved ones and close friends
  • People with IED experience trouble at work, home, or school with other complications including job loss, school suspension, car accidents, or trouble with the law
  • Mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, often occur with IED
  • Studies revealed that people with IED have a higher risk of self-harm, with 12.5% of respondents reporting suicide attempts

How Intermittent Explosive Disorder Is Treated 

IED is a complex personality and emotional concern that requires interventions and careful considerations due to certain risks. In order to approach anger and addiction treatment, a licensed psychological expert will come up with a concurrent disorder diagnosis. Diagnosis begins with collecting the individual’s general medical history and psychiatric history in conjunction with a physical and mental state examination. 

To be diagnosed with IED, the patient must display failure to control anger episodes or aggressive impulses characterized by:

  • Verbal aggression (verbal arguments, temper tantrums, or fights)
  • Physical aggression toward property, individuals, or animals occurring twice a week, on average, for a period of three months
  • Three episodes involving destruction of any kind of property, combined with physical assault within a 12-month period

Anger and addiction as a result of IED are best treated by combining cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), which consists of relaxation training, coping skills training, and guided medication. Forms of talk therapy are often incorporated, especially when there is a need to heal and repair relationships that have been damaged by anger and addiction issues. At Freedom From Addiction, we recognize that there is no standalone approach to treating anger and addiction disorders, let alone concurrent cases of IED and substance abuse. Instead of relying on drug detox alone, we have found more success in getting to the root cause of anger issues, taking evidence-based, holistic approaches, and creating an individualized treatment plan based on each client's unique circumstances.

Our concurrent disorder treatment includes:

Medical Detox 

Patients with overlapping disorders involving anger and addiction have often spent years using drugs and alcohol as a way to self-medicate. Quitting on their own at home may not be safe due to the extreme withdrawal symptoms during the detoxification process. Freedom From Addiction offers safe, effective, and medically guided drug detox programs that help the body flush out trace amounts of alcohol and drugs while providing necessary support for the patient to manage the withdrawal symptoms as comfortably as possible.

Drug Addiction Treatment

We offer different types of anger and addiction treatment programs tailored to fit the client's personal needs. We have residential treatment, in-house or hospitalization, outpatient programs, and behavioural counselling. Our impressive team of medical professionals and addiction specialists are qualified to treat all types of addiction to illicit drugs, including:

Alcohol Addiction Treatment  

Individuals with IED disorder are at significant risk of developing alcohol use disorder or alcoholism. For clients with a concurrent disorder of IED and substance use disorder, our alcohol rehab and alcohol addiction treatment services are designed to provide support at every step of the way. These include:

  • Helping families and friends stage interventions
  • Providing detoxification and psychosocial support designed to address drinking problems
  • Conducting individual and group counselling for maintaining abstinence and relapse prevention
  • Giving family therapy and emotional support for loved ones who may have been hurt or want to be involved in the healing process.

Mental Health Treatment  

The core of our concurrent disorder treatment at Freedom From Addiction is our mental health treatment program. It effectively helps pinpoint potential risk factors, childhood trauma, and potential triggers that may have resulted in the clients’ anger and addiction concerns. But more importantly, they are also designed to teach them how to unlearn negative thinking patterns, emotions, and unhealthy coping mechanisms by replacing them with positive behaviours.

Our mental health treatment involves integrative therapies, such as:

 Our Integrated Anger and Addiction Treatment Approach

Although there’s now an increased awareness in the world of addiction recovery about the widespread prevalence of concurring disorders involving substance use and mental health illnesses, there’s still a limited number of drug rehabs that offer effective treatments that address both the addiction and the mental health concern. Individuals who have a concurrent diagnosis for anger and addiction are left with no choice but to complete their addiction program before getting access to a proper Intermittent Explosive Disorder treatment. Without an available therapy for the concurrent disorder, the least these drug rehabs can do is provide a referral for a separate IED treatment, overlooking the possibility of relapse, or worse, suicide.

Freedom From Addiction is an addiction recovery home-based in Aurora, Ontario. Our concurrent disorder treatment programs are backed by years of extensive review of scientific literature regarding addiction and co-occurring disorders. We have a team of experts that implement evidence-based concurring treatment plans and a continuing care program to provide clients with all the support they need. 

If you or a loved one is suffering from anger and addiction, we are here to help you. Start a new life of healing and happiness. Contact Freedom From Addiction today.

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