The Link Between Substance Abuse and IED

Intermittent Explosive Disorder, IED, has the characteristic of a repeated failure to resist aggressive impulses that will cause an individual to commit acts of assault that are serious in nature or to vandalize or cause the destruction of property. Of all the psychiatric diagnoses for behaviors that are angry, aggressive, or violent this one is closest to what we are observing in our world today. When turning on the news each day we seem to see more and more anger-fueled violence. This happens here in the United States and abroad.

The complete definition of Intermittent Explosive Disorder is, according to, “the degree of aggressiveness expressed during an episode that is grossly out of proportion to any provocation or precipitating psychosocial stressor.” Mass shootings in recent years can be linked to this disorder.  Oftentimes, the shooter may have no prior history of any aggressive episodes.

People are generally shocked when someone they know acts out in this aggressive and violent way. Often you will hear about what a great person they seemed to be. Some will describe them as passive, meek, quiet, and usually polite. That is until something triggers them. This can be a stressful event, an insult of some sort, rejection by a person or persons, or a long-suffered abuse or bullying. This will trigger a vengeful rampage that the person hopes will give them revenge, attention, or make them infamous.

People with Intermittent Explosive Disorder will often say that once they freed from the tension that they had built up inside from all the rage they begin to get a sense of relief. Shortly after comes a sense of embarrassment and remorse. IED begins in the early teenage years and depression, anxiety, and substance abuse will follow. It is not usually diagnosed until three or more episodes of impulsive aggressiveness happens.

The cause is a combination of several things. Genetic factors, physical factors, and environmental factors.

  • Genetic Factors: This happens when traits of the disorder are passed from parent to child.  At this time, there is no specific gene identity that has been isolated.
  • Physical: In the area of the brain that controls the arousal and inhibition traits of a person there might be an abnormality. The neurotransmitter serotonin may be made up differently.
  • Environmental: The way a child grows up can have a huge impact on the development of Intermittent Explosive Disorder. Harsh punishments by parents can cause the development of IED as children act out aggressively as a result of the harsh punishment.

IED and Substance Abuse

According to, "People may turn to drugs and alcohol simply because they’ve been dealing with IED since youth. For example, in a study of close to 6,500 teens, researchers found that about two-thirds admitted that they’d had angry episodes involving threatening someone, growing violent, or destroying property. Of those teens, about 6.2 percent met the criteria for IED, and the researchers note that the average age of onset of the disorder was 12. Young people often don’t have the capacity to deal with anger. The portions of the brain that deal with impulse control and decision-making are still under development during adolescence, so teens are much more likely to be impulsive. A teen with intermittent explosive disorder could use that impulsivity and make a poor decision about drugs. Since teen brains are more sensitive to the damage drugs can cause, an impulsive teen that medicates IED with drugs can become an adult with IED and an addiction."

Our substance abuse treatment centers in Charlotte NC can help with both addiction and IED. We can treat mental illness and substance abuse holistically, without having to use medication. Alternative therapy to medication is the best way to treat the root cause of all substance abuse issues and mental health disorders.

Substance abuse treatment centers in Charlotte NC like Legacy Freedom isn’t like any other type of rehab your teen will experience. We offer the following to those struggling with drug or alcohol use, in hopes to help them learn what life without drugs and alcohol will be like:

  • adventure therapy
  • comprehensive onboarding and evaluation
  • drug testing
  • dual diagnosis
  • family therapy
  • group therapy
  • individual counseling focused on the individual’s needs
  • life skills
  • support and assistance

Legacy Freedom | Substance Abuse Treatment Centers in Charlotte NC

Do you think you may be suffering from IED, other mental disorders or an addiction? Are you unsure of where to turn next? Regardless of how bad your drug or alcohol use has become, help is always available. You’re not alone in this. Recovery is just a phone call or visit away. Contact Legacy Freedom to learn about our substance abuse treatment centers in Charlotte NC and our highly successful outpatient therapy. We are here to help you get back on track to a healthier, happier life. Call now.

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