Impulse Problems and Drug Addiction: Cause and Effect Relationships

  • Edward J. Khantzian


The aim of this paper is to explore some of the important interrelationships of drug use/dependency and impulse problems. Over the past fifteen years mental health professionals and citizens alike have been inundated by accounts in the mass media and in the scientific literature that link drug use/dependency with criminality, violence, brutality, and other forms of antisocial behavior. Not infrequently, the characterizations and accounts of such cases blur the links between the drugs and the disturbed behavior, and the consequent suggested or implied relationship between the two is overdrawn, stereotyped, and/or unspecified. This discussion attempts to specify some of the relationships between impulse problems and drugs, placing a particular emphasis on problems with aggression. Drawing upon clinical examples, I will attempt to show how the specific psychopharmacologic actions of the three main classes of drugs upon which individuals become dependent--stimulants, sedatives/hypnotics, and opiates--interact with personality and other emotional factors, and how this interaction may affect behavior.


Drug Addiction Impulse Problem Impulsive Behavior Heroin Addict Opiate Dependence 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward J. Khantzian
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry The Cambridge HospitalCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Harvard Medical School at The Cambridge HospitalCambridgeUSA

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