Autistic Individuals More Likely to Self-Medicate for Mental Health Symptoms

They have deep feelings and are more prone to depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts than the general population. Nick Blackmer is a librarian, fact-checker, and researcher with more than 20 years’ experience in consumer-oriented health and wellness content. When I think about it, I will often go with harsher things, such as bourbon rocks just so I sip it more slowly. The complexity is a sensory reward when sipped slowly, so it’s not a negative trade-off.

  • People with autism who are more introverted will be less likely to engage in social behaviors, including drinking.
  • Yet, as anyone who has ever sent a text after having one too many can attest, alcohol has its drawbacks and we’re not just talking heart and liver damage.
  • Evidence was consistent in suggesting psychosocial well-being of patients with cancer deteriorated, and cancer patients experienced financial distress, albeit results were in general not compared to pre-pandemic levels.
  • They should be mindful of this, particularly if they are young but old enough to drink alcohol.
  • When combined with counseling, this approach is proven highly effective.
  • As you say though, we are finding solutions to the things which cause people to drink in the first place but what about those with the ‘alcoholic personality’ that you mention?

This may be related to the tendency to prefer sameness or to form repetitive behaviours or habits. While medications are helpful and critically necessary at times, many autistic children are prescribed medications and are expected to cope before they are given access to sensory or academic accommodations. This can lead to patterns of addiction and seeking increasingly strong dosages to be able to cope.

View our editorial content guidelines to learn how we create helpful content with integrity and compassion. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is among the most popular therapy for recovering addicts. CBT helps patients reframe negative thought patterns and develop positive attributes, such as higher self-esteem and healthy coping mechanisms. Medical detox can be provided at an inpatient center for severe cases, while most individuals can safely go through medical detox at an outpatient level.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Autism

It’s a wide range, which is why there are different levels of the autism spectrum. Doctors previously thought that autism and alcohol use were unrelated. However, several studies have determined there is a connection.

Some people with autism drink excessively, though not as much as others. Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression.

Grandson is a high functioning autistic child and is totally disruptive and seems to want to control everything and everyone…. The first is how your amygdala (the part of your brain that deals with emotions and fear/stress responses) can actually work against your efforts to quit or reduce your drinking. It shows you how to move your decision to drink away from this very instinctive part of your brain to your prefrontal cortex which is the part of your brain that is more concerned with considered decision-making.

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Thankfully I went into recovery and despite all of life’s difficulties I am better off. Tinsley’s case is not unique, as this pattern is fairly common for both neurodivergent Autistics and ADHDers. In reality, resorting to drugs and alcohol in public settings can “take the edge off” and can help one avoid worrying about “autistic behaviours or sensory overload” . The habit of substance use followed Tinsley into college, as he started to drink alcohol in dangerously large quantities to ease into social events. However, this unhealthy habit followed him to his 40s, where he realized that he was drinking “lethal amounts of alcohol” (Tinsley & Hendrickx, 2008). Many autistics resort to substance use as a way of relieving anxiety and coping with insomnia, mutism, and sensory dysregulation.

autism and alcoholism

I think a really important thing about Drink Less in Seven Days is that it is NOT about quitting drinking altogether. It is about cutting down to a level that you are comfortable with, whatever that is for you. However, it was the second part of the book, where Georgia broke down different personality types.

Therefore, if someone with ASD has social anxiety and problems talking to others, drinking can make them feel more relaxed. Therefore, drinking may temporarily mask their ASD symptoms. Some people with ASD may rely on drinking to mask their anxiety for years. In these people, drinking itself may eventually turn into a problem. Likewise, many people with ASD have sensory problems whichcan be reduced by alcohol, which depresses the central nervous system.

Is Asperger’s Syndrome Different than Autism?

One Swedish study found the risk of substance use was high among people with ASD. Drinking is typically a social activity, and because of this, very few people with autism engage in social or binge drinking. Anonymous said…I became an alcoholic but I believe I was one before I ever picked up a drink. It did make me feel good and more relaxed and more social but sometimes it lets down your inhibitions too much and you just end up humiliating yourself.

There are the neurological, and physiological components to how the alcohol impacts the NeuroDivergent brain. The thing is, with the NeuroDivergent existence, in the NeuroTypical world, it’s just so uncomfortable sometimes, eco sober house complaints to live in a world that wasn’t built for you, or with your needs in mind. I- I’ve changed a lot, because before it was like this bandaid, which was probably a very unhealthy way for me to be using alcohol.

Regardless of the potential link to autism, experts agree that pregnant women should avoid alcohol consumption to reduce the risk of harm to their developing fetus. However, it’s important to note that this study only found an association between alcohol consumption and autism, and did not prove causation. Other factors, such as genetics and other environmental factors, may also play a role in the development of autism. With the prevalence of autism on the rise, many parents are searching for answers about the possible causes of autism.

Here, Sundquist et al. have looked to see if there is a relationship between a child having a parent with an alcohol use problem and the child’s risk of developing autism or ADHD. In conclusion, while there is some evidence to suggest a link between alcohol consumption during pregnancy and an increased risk of autism, the relationship remains unclear. For people on the spectrum who have addictions now, however, getting help can be challenging. There is not a single study on the best way to treat these individuals.

autism and alcoholism

Not only will healthcare staff monitor the recovering addict’s vitals and provide emergency care if necessary, but they can also provide prescription medication to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and help prevent relapse. An IOP, or Intensive Outpatient Program, is less intensive than a PHP. Treatment through an IOP usually occurs a few days a week and includes group therapy, individual therapy, and additional support programs. Someone that is autistic may benefit from this less intense level of treatment because it would be the least disruptive to their regular daily lives. Whether you are looking for addiction treatment for yourself or someone under your care, there are many options. The program you select will often be influenced by the recovering addict’s level of addiction and any special needs or accommodations required due to their AUD.

How does alcohol affect people with autism?

As one mother put it, “There’s so little time, yet so much left to do.” If you already have developed an addiction, remember that it’s not shameful or a moral failure. While finding help that is tailored to the autistic experience can be hard, connecting with the autistic community can be helpful to find resources and support in your area. As such, many autistic people will understandably abscond when it comes to discussions of drinking and, as a recent survey I created for this post shows, many will choose not to drink at all . 2) Although the attempt to distinguish between risks in biological and adoptive parents is commendable much of your reasoning hinges on the lack of significance among the latter to advance the notion of a causal mechanism. With at most nine parents for ADHD and one father for autism the analysis for cases among adoptive parents is imprecise, and thus meaningless.

However, on a superficial level, adults with high-functioning autism display a ‘normal’ façade when they drink alcohol, which may explain why their alcohol dependency is not better diagnosed. The disorder is clinically called autism spectrum disorder , which means symptoms vary from one person to another. The choices sober living severity of symptoms differs depending on where someone falls on the autism spectrum. Because everyone– but especially autistic people– react differently to drugs and alcohol, it is important to have a trusted person with you who is sober and who can be trusted to respect your privacy, boundaries, and dignity.

However, unlike “neurotypicals”, those with ASD that drink may be more likely to repeat the behavior in a ritualic way since repetitive behavior is one of the main diagnostic criteria for ASD. Alcohol impacts people with Autism Spectrum Disorder the same as the general population. You agree to receive email, SMS, and other electronic communications about our services and care. You also agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Godfrey HP, Knight RG, Bishara SN. The relationship between social skill and family problem-solving following very severe closed head injury. Written informed consent was obtained from the patients for publication of their case reports and any accompanying images.

If you like what I do, please consider supporting my blog. Patreon members help ensure the continued growth and support for this blog by covering expenses like, web hosting fees, and pay for Transcriptions and CC to help make the content on this site more accessible. It dampens the anxiety, which is related to not knowing how to act, and not wanting to behave in a way that makes people more likely to exclude me. I would love for science to look more into those differences, as well as how other chemicals and medications, the differences in those things, in NeuroDivergent and NeuroTypical brains.

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