Autistic Drug Addiction and Rehab
Getting through the process of substance abuse rehabilitation can be extremely difficult. However, this process is oftentimes significantly more challenging when a patient also suffers from autism. Autism is a collective term for a group of disorders that affects emotional, mental and behavioral processes for people; it is frequently diagnosed during childhood or early adolescence. There are several different varieties of the specific conditions that are considered part of autism spectrum disorders, all of which affect the human body in different ways.
Common Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnoses
Some forms of autism can be rather mild, whereas other manifestations of autism can be extremely severe and play a highly debilitating role in the life of the patient. However, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that the most common diagnoses for autism spectrum disorder include:
- Rett syndrome
- Asperger syndrome
- Childhood disintegrative disorder
- Classic autistic disorder
- Pervasive development disorders not otherwise specified
Evidence-Based Integrated Treatment for Autism Dual Diagnoses
Before selecting a rehabilitation center for aiding in dual diagnoses that involves autism and a particular aspect of substance abuse, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration suggests enrolling in programs in which there are:
- A cognitive behavioral approach
- Practitioners who have been cross-trained to deal with both issues
- A thorough integration of services (including medicine)
- Motivational integrations
Treatment Facility Criteria+
There are a variety of treatment facility options for people with autistic co-occurring disorders to choose from. In order to determine the one that may be most helpful for you and your particular afflictions, it is necessary to review the accreditation and licensing status of such a facility, as well as to look over any relevant criteria for staff members such as nurses, therapists and counselors. The best of these facilities can base their treatment options and procedures on research practices and typically have some sort of literature on this subject, as well as programs for aftercare that may prove instrumental in preventing relapses.
Staff members should also have a significant amount of experience in helping patients with autism and with whatever substance abuse issues you may be experiencing. Options will typically include both inpatient and outpatient facilities, with treatment varying considerably in the amount of time a patient spends in a particular rehabilitative institution. Part of the amount of time that patients will need to spend in the formal rehabilitative process depends on how severe the symptoms of autism and substance abuse are, as well as what sort of methodology is used to help patients. Common methodologies that have shown effectiveness in treating autistic patients with substance abuse issues include cognitive behavior therapy, holistic therapies, as well as conventional 12-step treatments.
Treatment Process for Those With Autism
According to the National Institute of Mental Health’s Alliance for Research Progress, individuals are most vulnerable to the onset of drug dependences during the same time that they are most susceptible to mental disorders, which is from ages 12 to 25. For co-occurring autistic disorder patients, the most effective forms of treatment integrate aspects of dealing with what symptoms of autism are manifest as well as with the effects of substance abuse in a concurrent manner. This treatment process for most dual diagnoses patients that are autistic involves two principle components.
The first of these is a withdrawal process, in which the physical (and certain psychological) components of addiction are addressed. During this initial step, it is necessary for patients to get accustomed to doing without the substance they demonstrated a previous habit of using. During this stage, you will frequently be monitored by nurses and treatment center workers, while some rehabilitative institutions attempt to mitigate the discomfort that is a part of this process with the use of medication. Once this step is completed, you will then begin the more arduous process of dealing with the psychological causes of your substance abuse, which is oftentimes intrinsically related to whatever form of the autistic spectrum you have been living with. This component of the rehabilitative process frequently involves therapeutic counseling, and may also involve group work as well.
Group work has shown to be highly advantageous to patients in the past for the simple fact that group settings allows for people to contextualize their issues and needs in a manner in which they can see them from the perspective of others. However, due to the wide variety of symptoms that affect those with autism spectrum disorders, group sessions may not be practical for you until you are further along in the rehabilitative process and have already accomplished most of your recovery from substance abuse. Traditionally, group therapy is really helpful for preventing relapse. Individual counseling sessions that relate specifically to such a patient’s form of autism and form of substance abuse are generally more beneficial until this point. However, most substance abuse treatment centers have their own policy for therapy and counseling.
Doctors and scientists are not certain as to what exactly the cause of autism spectrum disorders may be, and as of yet there is no certain cure for people with some form of this condition. However, modifications to diet, along with training and medication, can help alleviate symptoms so that those with this condition can lead happy, productive lives. A report compiled by the National Academy of Sciences states that approximately one out of every five children, teenagers and toddlers has a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder.
Future Preventive Measures to Avoid Relapse
Rehabilitation is an ongoing process that usually never ends. Several years’ worth of sobriety can be undone in one day, which is why most former addicts will constantly say that they are still recovering from their addictions — for however amount of years since they last engaged in substance abuse. In light of this fact, one of the most effective things that autistic dual diagnoses rehabilitation centers can impart upon you is the means to help you from returning to such centers as a victim.
Oftentimes, the methodology employed by such centers specifically for this purpose utilizes a good amount of education about your particular form of autism and the effects that substance abuse can have on this condition and other aspects of your mental, cognitive and emotional processes. In many instances, this component of the rehabilitative process is done in a confidential setting. Also, it is frequently advantageous for recovering addicts, particularly those of dual diagnoses, to engage in group sessions for some time after they have been released from a top exclusive addiction rehabilitation center.
Doing so allows former patients to remember how easy it is to transgress and commit their previous errors. Also, group settings engender a social atmosphere which is usually extremely useful for people with autism, especially in light of the social challenges this condition presents for these individuals.