Breaking the Cycle and Finding Balance in Life
Autism spectrum disorders and addiction are complex conditions that can coexist in individuals, presenting unique challenges for treatment and recovery. Although people on the autism spectrum are less likely to engage in substance use, those who do are at a higher risk of developing substance dependence. Dependence is a challenging stage of addiction to heal from, especially when it co-occurs with a disorder from the autistic spectrum. However, it is possible to recuperate through holistic and psychological therapies.
The Link Between Autism Spectrum Disorders and Addiction
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental condition that affects communication, behaviours and social interactions. It encompasses a wide range of symptoms and severity levels, making it a highly heterogeneous disorder. According to recent studies, approximately 1% of the global population is affected by ASD, highlighting its prevalence and the need for increased awareness and support. People diagnosed with a condition within the spectrum can be incredibly diverse, with varying degrees of support needs.
Historically, Asperger’s syndrome was also a type of autism disorder, but under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental (DSM-5), it has since been grouped under Autism Spectrum Disorder as a subcategory, eliminating the unique diagnosis of Asperger syndrome.
Understanding addiction and compulsive behaviours through the lens of neurodiversity can help us better understand why both conditions coexist more frequently than the general populace. If you have an autism diagnosis, you might be more likely to:
- Experience bullying or abuse
- Feel lonely or isolated due to social difficulties or social anxiety
- Be sensitive to criticism or rejection
- Feel overwhelmed and stressed by social and emotive situations
- Have other co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression
- Develop repetitive and compulsive behaviours as a means of comfort
Unfortunately, teenagers and autistic adults often turn to alcohol or drug use as a coping mechanism for sensory problems, to handle social situations more effectively and to cope with difficult emotions or trauma. If you have fallen into the depths of addiction, we can help you heal.
Autism and Alcohol Use
Because of the challenges with decision-making processing related to autism spectrum disorder, you might be more vulnerable to substance use disorders such as alcohol addiction. In fact, co-occurring autism and alcohol use disorders are common, and alcohol as a depressant may seem like a good way to reduce anxiety, especially in social situations. Many would suggest you ‘take a sip’ to cope with loud noises, social impairment and low self-esteem. And social and peer pressure are often why many start drinking alcohol in the first place.
However, alcohol use can often worsen anxiety during a hangover, which may trap you in a cycle of abuse to avoid extreme anxiety. Handling withdrawal symptoms is even harder for people with neurodivergence conditions because you may struggle to voice your worries and express your feelings.
The Unique Challenges of Treating ASD and Addiction
Do you have difficulty accessing suitable treatment? If you suffer from co-occurring addiction and ASD, you are probably facing several unique challenges simultaneously. Pre-existing mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety and PTSD may also complicate the treatment process since carers must consider the best options for concurrently treating all these conditions. Therefore treatment durations may need to be longer due to the complex nature of these conditions.
Due to social impairment and fear of change, online therapy may be preferred over face-to-face care. However, if you are suffering from physical dependence, this can only help once your system has been cleared of any substance you have been abusing. Our assessment process will help us decide your best option, so don’t hesitate to call us today. We have a team of dual diagnosis specialists who can help you find the best therapies and heal from your addiction while keeping in control of your autism symptoms.
Another factor to consider is the support needs of your condition. If you require higher support, you may struggle to connect with your feelings or express yourself.
At Catch Recovery, we understand the challenges you face when dealing with a disorder within the spectrum and alcohol addiction or a substance use disorder. Our range of services can be adapted to support you if you feel more comfortable with online, flexible care. Our treatment specialists are experienced in dual diagnosis and will consider your needs with compassion and understanding.
Early intervention and preventing the escalation of substance abuse issues are important for autistic people. When we work with neurodivergent people, we know that helping you to manage overwhelming feelings is key to reducing substance abuse harm. By providing appropriate support and therapeutic interventions, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), we can help you learn how to manage your anxiety better, reducing the likelihood of turning to substances as a coping mechanism.
As part of the treatment programmes at CATCH Recovery, CBT and other psychotherapies are considered part of a wider holistic plan. To learn more about our services for improving physical and mental health, speak to our friendly, compassionate team today.
The Role of Family and Support Systems
The role of family and support systems in treating a dual diagnosis of autism and addiction is crucial for achieving improved treatment outcomes and long-term recovery. Family members and loved ones can provide emotional support, encouragement, and understanding, essential for navigating the complexities of autism and addiction. In addition, they can help facilitate communication where barriers may exist.
Research indicates that family involvement in the treatment process can improve outcomes when dealing with a dual diagnosis. As part of our therapies and counselling sessions, we have discovered that family participation in therapy sessions significantly improves the effectiveness of treatment. Furthermore, support systems can help you maintain your recovery by providing ongoing encouragement, accountability, and assistance in managing daily stressors.
We understand this may not be possible if you experience difficulties with relationships and social isolation, so the team at CATCH Recovery will be happy to act as your support network.
Take the First Step Today
Getting Help with Catch Recovery
Having a dedicated therapist who understands your difficulties and needs is a key component of our treatment offering here at CATCH Recovery. Our commitment to providing a supportive and understanding environment for those with autism and substance use disorder ensures treatment is accessible for everyone.
Our experienced team have over 40 years of experience helping individuals with a dual diagnosis, and we ensure that your unique needs are met throughout the treatment process.
By choosing to seek help with CATCH Recovery, you can expect to:
Better understand how certain autistic traits can exasperate anxiety and substance abuse
Learn coping mechanisms for dealing with difficult emotions, or overwhelming feelings
Empower you to view autism through a positive lens, with many positive attributes
Improve self-esteem by developing positive core values
Develop relationships with like-minded individuals who understand what you’re going through
The Goal of Therapy for those with Autism
We incorporate the latest evidence-based therapies, such as Cognitive behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Dialectic Behaviour Therapy (DBT), designed to treat mental health disorders and compulsive behaviours.
We work closely with you and, if appropriate, the family unit to develop a tailored treatment plan that addresses specific challenges and goals. This personalised approach ensures you receive the most effective care, increasing your chances of lasting recovery.
Contact Us to Start Your Journey to Recovery Today!
Starting the journey to recovery with us is a straightforward process that begins with a comprehensive assessment of your unique needs and challenges. From there, we will work to create a therapeutic plan that works around your lifestyle commitments.
We provide many ways in which you can reach out. Call us, email or Livechat to begin the treatment process today!