Thursday, June 16, 2016

Self-understanding helps criminal substance abusers

Public Release: 15-Apr-2016
Self-understanding helps criminal substance abusers
Aarhus University

Impulsiveness, crime and problems with social interaction. Many substance abusers also struggle with antisocial personality disorders, which makes it difficult for them to complete a drug or alcohol treatment programme. New research from the Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research at Aarhus BSS reveals that just six additional counselling sessions may lower the drop-out rate and increase the outcome of the treatment programme.


"The participants on the Impulsive Lifestyle Counselling programme had a lower drop-out rate than both other people with antisocial personality disorders and substance abusers in treatment in general. This shows us that we can increase the help for people who are impulsive and who, as a result, live a life of instability," says Associate Professor Morten Hesse, who is responsible for the research project together with Associate Professor Birgitte Thylstrup, both from Aarhus BSS.

The researchers are hoping that the treatment can be used in both the social sector and the Prison and Probation Service, which offer only few treatment programmes for people with antisocial personality disorders. These people are typically regarded as very difficult to treat and they rarely seek treatment themselves, apart from when they have problems with drug abuse.


The Impulsive Lifestyle Counselling programme consists of six structured sessions. The sessions focus on the participant's dreams and aspirations in life, and on how the impulsive and criminal behaviour stands in the way of their dreams.

"One of the participants had trashed his apartment, because his girlfriend had spent a night at a friend's house without telling him. Instead of debating whether the anger was fair or not, the counsellor and the participant considered the consequences -- the flat was trashed, and the girlfriend left him. This motivated the participants to find other ways of reacting," explains Morten Hesse.

In the programme, crime and impulsive behaviour are seen as a way of life rather than a diagnosis. This makes it easier to talk about the problems without stigmatising the participant as a criminal or as a patient.


The treatment programme consists of six hours of individual session on the following topics:

Thoughts and behaviour related to antisocial personality structure
Impulsive behaviour and immediate consequences
Impulsive behaviour in relation to pride and self-worth
Values that may support or prevent changes
Social support


tags: drug use, drug abuse

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