Autism and self medication
I have a theory, I know it’s not scientific, but I have been spending a lot of time thinking through my daughter’s autism diagnosis, learning about ASD and understanding my own autism and then beginning to think back through my family history and the struggles and challenges my relatives and ancestors faced.
I have cousins that have passed away, and looking back at their lives I clearly can see that many of the difficulties they faced in life mirror the struggles of autistics. Learning disabilities that kept them from receiving proper educations, feeling dumb and left behind, falling in with the bad crowd and finding themselves trapped in a life dependent on drugs and alcohol.
I have also many relatives with mental health issues that track with many comorbid diagnosis of autism, and they have been left to struggle on their own, hoping for treatment and care that rarely makes a difference. Many then too turn to self medicating their problems and compounding them further.
I know in my own life I have used both food and booze to help me bond, soothe the chaos of the crowd and lubricate social situations that I found unbearable. It’s my theory that many in rehab centers, homeless because of addiction or mental illness or struggling silently with their demons are undiagnosed autistics. I don’t think autism causes addiction or mental illness, but undiagnosed and unaccommodated autism can lead those who don’t understand their neurology can find themselves using anything at hand to make the noise go away, make the anxiety stop, or the social situations evaporate.
Again, just a theory, but from my own life experience I think it’s an educated guess.