Do People with Asperger’s Self-Medicate?

Do People with Asperger’s Self-Medicate?

People who struggle with Asperger’s have another challenge on top of addiction to face in recovery. Their biggest challenge is relating to others and taking in their opinions for consideration. It can be quite difficult to interact with and relate well to others, which can lead to social dysfunction and a sense of isolation. This can lead to the addiction through self-medicating to cope.

Self-Medicating with Asperger’s

Asperger’s syndrome have issues that fall along a spectrum, depending on the individual. Their issues are on one side of the spectrum, while those with more severe symptoms have a classic form of autism. Dysfunctional relationships typically mark a person’s journey with autism and Asperger’s. This may include challenges with holding jobs or having families. This may create difficulty for them in understanding facial expressions, feel comfortable talking to others or listening well, and not being able to engage appropriately for their age with peers. Some people with disorders on the spectrum also deal with aggression challenges because they feel they are not being heard or are unable to communicate their needs. They can get upset and have a hard time releasing aggression to calm down.


Where addiction comes in for people with Asperger’s is not feeling able to cope with the challenges they face each day in social settings. They are at increased risk of addiction because they want to soothe the challenges they face with making friends, interacting at work, or just feeling like they are part of a group. They might drink alcohol to fit in or self medicate feelings of anger and anxiety that come up in social settings. Thoughts may become intrusive enough to want alcohol or drugs to cope. Most common substances used are alcohol and prescription painkillers. Sometimes both are used together, which can be a lethal combination.

Treatment Options

When people with Asperger’s face challenges in their treatment, they often benefit from addressing mental health issues fully in the presence of trained therapists who understand the spectrum. People who deal with mental health issues and Asperger’s, on top of addiction, can feel their issues are too complex to deal with and feel frustrated by the slow progress in recovery. People with Asperger’s may benefit from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to learn how to accept messages in their minds without placing judgment upon those thoughts. If they are feeling encouraged in social settings without substances, they will need to relearn how to combat old mental habits and thoughts that go along with it. If they can learn to live more comfortably as they are, and get more out of life sober, then treatment will provide space to do that and have a more higher level of functioning, even with a diagnosis like Asperger’s.

Oceanfront embraces people wherever they are at in their recovery journey. We help you navigate mental health concerns and focus on ways to help you find healing from addiction. We are located in beautiful Laguna Beach. Call us to find out how we can help you navigate addiction recovery: 888-981-4295