Home » News » Personality » Antisocial Personality Complicates Substance Abuse Treatment
Antisocial Personality Complicates Substance Abuse Treatment

Antisocial Personality Complicates Substance Abuse Treatment

For substance abusers who also have antisocial personality disorder, it can be a monumental struggle to get through an entire drug or alcohol treatment. Now a new Danish study reveals that just six additional counseling sessions may lower the dropout rate and increase the outcome of the treatment.

People with antisocial personality disorder tend to act impulsively, lie, break laws and live a life of overall instability. They are typically regarded as very difficult to treat for drug abuse, and they rarely seek treatment themselves.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research at Aarhus University in Denmark, involved 175 substance abusers with antisocial personality disorders. The researchers tested a new treatment program — the Impulsive Lifestyle Counselling programme — geared particularly for people with antisocial personalities.

The program consists of six structured sessions. The sessions focus on the participant’s dreams and aspirations in life and how the impulsive and criminal behavior becomes an obstacle to their dreams.

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

“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 counselor 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,” said associate professor Morten Hesse, who is responsible for the research project together with associate professor Birgitte Thylstrup.

Out of the 80 participants enrolled in the standard treatment program alone, 54 percent dropped out of the program before completing it. The other 95 participants were offered the standard treatment supplemented with the Impulsive Lifestyle Counselling program. Among these participants, the drop-out rate was lower, at 42 percent, and this group was also taking fewer drugs than those in the standard program by the three-month mark.

“The participants on the Impulsive Lifestyle Counselling program 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,” said Hesse.

The researchers are hoping that the treatment can be used in both the social sector and in prison and probation programs, which currently offer only a few treatment programs for people with antisocial personality disorders.

Source: Aarhus University

Antisocial Personality Complicates Substance Abuse Treatment

Traci Pedersen

Traci Pedersen is a professional writer with over a decade of experience. Her work consists of writing for both print and online publishers in a variety of genres including science chapter books, college and career articles, and elementary school curriculum.

APA Reference
Pedersen, T. (2018). Antisocial Personality Complicates Substance Abuse Treatment. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 17 Apr 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.