Although the official diagnosis of Aspergers has been removed from formal documentation, many people know this condition by that name. Many people with “Aspergers” can have symptoms that fall on a spectrum.

Because of the spectrum of symptoms; the diagnosis merged with the diagnosis of Autism. There are a variety of levels of functionality. The prominent themes remain the same.

Those with Aspergers or Autism Spectrum Disorder lack social skills. Intelligence can be on either end of the spectrum.

Some people with the diagnosis are exceptionally bright; while others may lack the ability to retain information and pay attention.

Many people with Autism Spectrum Disorder are focused on a few interests.

They may not understand other’s emotions and fail to show empathy. Some times speech can be delayed.

Self harm may also occur if triggered or if they cannot perform a function that they are set upon.

 

Are Aspergers and Drug Addiction Actually Related?

With these symptoms in mind; Aspergers and drug addiction is not common.

However, those with high functioning Aspergers or Autism may find self medicating with alcohol in social situations to alleviate their anxiety. Social situations are often extremely stressful for those that fall in this spectrum.

That in mind, unless they fall into a situation were it is extremely easy to obtain drugs, those with Aspergers or Autism don’t usually fit into the category of negotiating more serious drug deals.

Aspergers and drug addiction may not be likely but the prospect of self medicating is.

For that reason, there have been a few studies conducted to understand the dual diagnosis of Aspergers and drug addictions.

7.9 million people had both a mental disorder and substance use disorder, also known as co-occurring mental and substance use disorders.

Aspergers and Drug Addiction
SAMHSA – Mental and Substance Disorders

 

While dual diagnosis is often used to treat those with drug and alcohol addiction to find other mental health conditions, the comorbidity of substance use disorders and mental health conditions is pretty high.

Addictive behaviors are very common in those with Aspergers and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Children with ADHD also fall into addictive patterns.

NBC News published an article on the topic. By increasing mental health awareness, those with these conditions can better understand the behaviors associated.

 

Children with an autism spectrum disorder spend about twice as much time playing video games as kids who don’t have a developmental disability, according to a new study.

Researchers also found that children with an autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at an increased risk of gaming addictions, compared to children without the disabilities.
NBC News – Addictive Gaming More Common With Autism and ADHD

 

Between the likelihood of mental health being associated with substance use disorders and the addictive tendencies in Autism Spectrum and ADHD; it would seem that Aspergers and drug addiction would be more likely.

One study looked to see what aspects of personalities in adolescence, specifically related to Autism Spectrum Disorder, would make it more of a risk.

The study found that adolescent men with introversive personalities (introverts) and sensation-seeking behaviors were more at risk of substance abuse.

 

Adolescents diagnosed with Asperger syndrome are at less risk for drug use derived from family and access to drugs factors.

Subjects with Asperger syndrome did score higher on introversive, inhibited, doleful, and borderline tendency prototypes than healthy controls, and scored lower on all sensation-seeking traits.

Being male, a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, and unruly, introversive, and sensation-seeking traits were all independently associated with the risk of drug abuse.
NCBI PubMed.Gov – Attitude and Risk of Substance use in Adolescence Diagnosed with Apserger Syndrome 

The Real Problem : Self Medicating

While the relationship between Aspergers and Drug Addiction is less likely; the common practice of self medicating does extend into those with the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and Aspergers.

Even those with ADHD fall into self medicating cycles when they find it alleviates the anxiety and stress associated with their mental health.

Self medicating can be a practice of self harm when not done with the guidance of medical professionals.

Schizophrenia and drug abuse are very common. Many people with Schizophrenia look to substances to self medicate and ease their symptoms.

There are legitimate chemical imbalances found in those with depression, anxiety, ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

A great deal of research has been conducted to understand the full extent of mental health conditions and the impact on the brain.

One thing that is certain is that the chemicals inside of the brain are not being released or functioning as they should in those without symptoms indicating a mental health condition.

What this means is that other substances can help replicate normal function to aid in helping those with mental health conditions maintain normal function.

Just like other health conditions inhibit normal functions; medication is used to help those that need it to carry out a more comfortable life.

Self medicating may seem like a cost effective route to feeling better, but it may cause more harm than good.

Replacing one bad thing with another doesn’t get you ahead, it just puts another barrier in the way to recovery.

Once a formal diagnosis is given and proper treatment is received, it is easier to understand you own bodies unique function.

While a diagnosis may tell us something about you, the experiences that you have, the genetics you possess and your own unique personality are things that no text book can teach a doctor.

But with the correct training and proper understanding, these professionals can learn to understand your own unique needs and find ways to help you heal and recovery.

 

Success Of Dual Diagnosis

The practice of dual diagnosis is very integrated into personalized treatment. While most can find similarities between one person and another, each individual is unique.

We all have experiences and other factors that make us different. Between medical interventions and therapy the process of recovery is really aided by focusing on each person.

Aspergers and drug addiction may not be common but with all of the symptoms associated, there are definitely instances where the two go together.

Finding help for symptoms that involve depression, anxiety and stress can aid in recovery from substance abuse or prevent the use of substances to self medicate.

 

Sources:

http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FRR1-2014/NSDUH-FRR1-2014.pdf

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/addictive-gaming-more-common-autism-adhd-f6C10813635

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23962420

Self Medicating : A look at Aspergers and Drug Addiction
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