Saturday, May 30, 2009

Autism and Addiction

The truth is that anyone can wind up with an addiction. There are plenty of substances, activities, or behaviors that can become addictions. An addiction is a false need for something that consumes your time, money or both. It's something that isn't been controlled enough and is consumed or used inappropriately and too much. There are a multitude of studies out there for what kind of people are most at risk for addictions to drugs or alcohol, but what about addiction in general?

High functioning autistics are highly at risk for addiction. I'm addicted to soda. If I have a pack of coke or mountain dew in my fridge, I will fight a serious temptation to drink it all in one sitting. Can after can or bottle after bottle. I can't take the risk of drinking those anymore. I found the taste of a cold coke to be very satisfying and I loved how the carbonation felt going down my throat. For that alone, I would drink and drink and drink. If I ran out, I felt anxious to get more. That's an addiction.

So how do you separate an autistic interest or tendency from an addiction? It entirely depends on the subject matter at hand. It's still a fine line. Autistics have a tendency to have one or two interests and find it difficult to talk about anything else. If one likes cars, and it's their special subject, they will likely be able to tell you anything you do or don't want to know about cars. That, by itself, is not an addiction. Should they start buying toy cars to the point of forsaking all else, that may be an addiction. One of my tendencies is in personal and home security, but I'm not addicted to setting up my home with bars, cameras and laser eyes. It would be easy for an autistic like me to take so much interest in home security that I turn my apartment into Fort Knox.

Not only is it important to teach our children with autism to have multiple interests, but to watch what they get into so that they can maybe avoid overdoing it to that point. Trying new things is great, but we can create a monster if we don't teach moderation right along with that new experience.


Tiffany Walensky said...

That's interesting. Well said.

Thewildeman2 said...

Thank you very much Tiffany, glad to have you here.

Anonymous said...

I really like how you correlated addition and autism. I have struggles with additions my whole life, but hadn’t thought of my daughter’s compulsion for soda in the same light. My daughter has autism, and is quirky, and one of her quirks is that she will drink and drink and drink soda if allowed. I quit buying them for I don’t like her consuming more high fructose corn syrup them she has too. I had never seen it like the compulsion of addiction. You also are great at helping shed light on matters in a way that makes sense to me. Thanks my dear friend.

Anonymous said...

You never seem to not amaze me with your insight. Once again It has helped me because I am going to be an addiction counselor and this is useful.

Thewildeman2 said...

Thank you both. I'm glad whenever my work can be of help anywhere.