Substance abuse is one of many dangerous trends that has crept into society, where people have gone to great lengths to stop them. As many as one-third of people with a mental disorder or autistic traits are fighting and coping with substance abuse.
This article is written with the sole purpose of extending support to the ones who are dual diagnosed with ASD and other forms of addictions. This occurrence seems to be due to a phenomenon known as comorbidity effect.
Comorbidity effect is defined as the condition in which one condition is responsible for fuelling the growth of another condition.
ASD Comorbidity and its role in Addiction
In the past, autistic people were thought to be less prone to certain forms of addiction, such as substance abuse. This was due to the unique characteristics of individuals with ASD that include less socialization, which would make them less likely to indulge in habits such as drinking alcohol with their friends.
However, a recent study points toward an alarming finding: if autistic individuals are exposed to drinking or marijuana, there are at a much greater risk of becoming addicted and ending up with a substance abuse problem.
The rise in substance abuse can be seen in situations where shy, autistic individuals might try to overuse the substance in order to facilitate smoother encounters in social settings. Unfortunately, they can end up abusing the substance and falling into addiction.
Another major factor regarding autism and substance abuse is the repetitive actions characteristic to many autistic individuals. These individuals repeat the tasks, in this case exposing themselves to the dangers of substance abuse.
Many addicts have a similar relationship when it comes to using the substances for the first time. Although they start using to overcome social anxiety, peer pressure, or some other personal problem, over a period of time, it develops into physical dependency.
Treatment Options for Autism and Addiction
Integrated Intervention is said to be an effective treatment for dual diagnosis of ASD and drug addiction. Integrated intervention involves a regimen in which autism symptoms as well as substance abuse are simultaneously addressed.
The first step before starting any treatment is to accept the fact that an individual has difficulty withdrawing from a substance. This is followed by administering the sufficient medical alternatives that can assist in the process of recovery.
The next step is the detoxification process. It is always suggested that individuals go through an inpatient care system rather than an outpatient because the rate of consistency is higher in the inpatient system and because the patient is constantly monitored by medical specialists.
Another common method is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is more focussed on talk therapy that helps an individual become aware of the harmful effects of negative thinking and learn how to accept messages from the mind.
It is also advisable to seek the help of family and friends. Overcoming addictions and coping with ASD are uphill tasks and need lots of patience. However, with the right mindset, support, and well-designed treatment plan, one can overcome them and achieve a happier and stronger life.