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Drug & Alcohol Addiction and Autism [Updated 2-11-20]

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Re-posted 2-11-20

UPDATE:  "Autism Safety: Keeping You Autistic Child Safe at Home & In The Community" --


Autism is a developmental disorder. Around 1 in 88 children suffer from the condition. Autism occurs when various parts of the brain fail to work collectively. Autism is also known as a 'spectrum disorder'. This means the symptoms of autism vary greatly among people who suffer from the disorder.

Autism can affect the sufferers' social and communication skills.

Three types of autism

Autism may be divided into three main types:

  1. Atypical autism is a mild form of autism when the sufferer suffers from only a few of the symptoms of autism.
  2. Asperger syndrome is also a mild form of autism. Sufferers are typically highly functioning.
  3. Classic autism is classed as an 'intellectual disability'. Sufferers of the condition may not learn to speak until they are three or four years old.

The link between autism and addiction

Studies have suggested a causal link between autism and the development of addiction. However, modern science has failed to offer up compelling reasons for this link. One school of thought is that sufferers of autism are more likely to struggle with social interactions. These people may consume alcohol in order to 'cover up' feelings of social ineptness. Alcohol or drugs may cause people with autism to feel more outgoing and less self-conscious.

Another rather contrary school of thought suggests that those with autism are more likely to drink alcohol alone. They thus consume alcohol purely for the effects of alcohol, rather for the social benefits that drinking alcohol may bring. Furthermore, some believe there is a genetic link between autism and addiction. For instance, alcoholism is more prevalent in families where at least one person sufferers with autism.

One study carried out in Australia claims those with milder symptoms of autism are most at risk of developing an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Sufferers of classic autism are far less likely to develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Treating autism

Whilst there exists no 'cure' for autism, there does exist a number of clinical and psychological treatments that are proven to relieve the symptoms of autism. These treatments are far more effective and far less dangerous than taking drugs or drinking alcohol.

Below, we list a number of proven treatments that are known to relieve the symptoms of autism:

  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Medications designed to treat depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD)
  • Behavioural training management techniques

Getting help today

To discovery how Rehab Recovery may help in your battle against drug or alcohol addiction, contact us today on 0800 088 66 86. At Rehab Recovery, we have partnered with many treatment clinics across the United Kingdom that offer specialised treatment for autistic people who suffer with an addiction to drugs or alcohol.