Among patients being treated for specific behaviour-control problems, there exists an important subgroup of ‘multi-impulsive’ patients whose treatment might be facilitated if the full range of their problems were recognised and dealt with as one general issue of impulse control. In women in particular, loss of control of eating may be prevalent and easily concealed from staff, and may thwart treatment. This survey of 50 women attending an alcoholic-treatment unit explored the prevalence of behavioural-control problems other than those of alcohol. Three-quarters of the women also had other behavioural problems. Over half the sample had thought of taking an overdose and just under half had actually taken one; about a quarter had cut themselves deliberately; half described impulsive physical violence; half acknowledged a period of ‘promiscuity’; and at least 16% had had a clinically diagnosable eating disorder. More research is needed but we believe that all self-damaging behaviour should be addressed simultaneously to prevent ‘revolving door’ relapses as emotional distress is transferred from one behaviour to another.
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