Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 15 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

For many professionals, patients, and relatives of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the co-occurrence with addiction to alcohol or drugs seems unimaginable. How could autism be hidden behind addiction and how could someone diagnosed with autism as a child become addicted in adolescence or adulthood? In this chapter, evidence is presented that this comorbidity is far more frequent in high-functioning adolescents and adults with ASD than is often appreciated. Two different perspectives are considered. First, both conditions are related to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Second, individuals with ASD may become addicted when they try and cope with their social difficulties by taking substances that help them overcome their initial shyness and social anxiety, or they do so to soothe their high levels of arousal and/or hypersensitivity to internal or external stimuli. There are established clinical guidelines for both conditions but none for managing the combination of these two disorders. Thus, the clinician, along with being acutely aware of the possible co-occurrence, should manage individual cases by tailoring an individual approach based on the evidence from both fields. This is illustrated by two clinical cases.

Keywords: autism, dopamine, addiction, behavioral addictions, drugs and alcohol

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.