Impulse Control Disorders Treatment Support Groups

Support groups are an important health care resource for millions of people. Whereas family and long-standing community ties used to provide necessary support systems, our mobile society and shifting social standards have broken many of these bonds. To compensate, many people turn to support or self-help groups as an alternative.

People with an impulse control disorder often find that impulse control support groups play an important role in their impulse control treatment and recovery.

What Are Impulse Control Support Groups?

Participants in self-help or support groups are generally people with similar problems coming together to help each other deal with and recover from certain challenges. Group formats can either be structured or informal, and some may be guided by a professional. Attendees are able to share their stories, successes, slips, tips and insights.

Alcoholics Anonymous is perhaps the most famous support group, and its 12-step structure has inspired many other organizations that deal with a variety of issues, including impulse control disorders.

What Are the Benefits of an Impulse Control Support Group?

One of the greatest benefits of impulse control support groups is that they help people realize they are not alone. Shame is a frequent complication of impulse control disorder, keeping people from seeking treatment and leading them to isolate themselves.

Participation in impulse control support groups can reframe these shameful feelings in a caring, non-judgmental environment. Support group participants are able to empower each other, model healing and offer real-world advice.

Of course, impulse control support groups aren’t for everyone. Be sure to talk with your health care provider to see if a support group would be an effective complement to your impulse control treatment.

What Kinds of Impulse Control Support Groups Are Available?

Impulse control support groups exist for nearly every impulse control disorder, including:

  • Compulsive Gambling: Gamblers Anonymous is patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous, and has chapters throughout the United States. It can be a helpful adjunct to impulse control treatment.
  • Kleptomania: Self-help programs, based on the 12-step model, are available for people with kleptomania.
  • Trichotillomania and Dermatillomania: Individuals dealing with compulsive hair-pulling and skin picking often find self-help groups a boon to their impulse control treatment.

People who are interested in impulse control support groups, but don’t see one for their particular issue or who can’t find one in their area, can contact their health care providers for information about effective substitutes. For example, some impulse control disorder service organizations moderate e-mail discussion groups.

In addition, family members and loved ones of people dealing with an impulse control disorder can benefit from attending a support group.


Ahmadi, K. (2010). What is a self-help group? Retrieved July 22, 2010, from

Gamblers Anonymous. (n.d.). Gamblers Anonymous. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2009). Kleptomania. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from

McManamy, J. (n.d.). To join or not to join: what to expect in a support group meeting. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from

Trichotillomania Learning Center. (2009). Treatment options: support groups. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from