Addictions Edited: the monthly take-home
Autism and addiction - episode 1
In this two-part podcast, the SSA's Rob Calder explores autism and addiction. He talks to Professors Julia Sinclair and Sam Chamberlain, Dr Janine Robinson and Chris Torry from the SABAA: Substance use, Alcohol and Behavioural addictions in Autism project that’s been funded by the SSA.
In this first episode, we look at how symptoms of behavioural and substance addictions can overlap with autism and how this can complicate diagnoses for both. We explore some of the causes of substance use that are particular to autism, whilst looking at how autistic people often use substances in ways that might make them more vulnerable to addiction. This includes issues of using alcohol to address social anxiety. We also ask why some treatment services can be difficult for autistic people to access and how treatment services might start to address these issues.
“Maybe our diagnostic tools need to consider more carefully that fine line between when something maybe becomes a behavioural addiction versus something that perhaps is a core part of autism” - Dr Janine Robinson
“What we have here is several spectrum disorders, people’s substance use might be on a spectrum, alcohol use might be on a spectrum and their manifestation of autism is also on a spectrum.” - Professor Julia Sinclair
“Treatment structured around groupwork can be really difficult for some people because it’s overwhelming or stressful. The sensory environment can be really unpleasant lots of fluorescent lights and noise and lots of people interacting in sometimes intense and difficult to process ways.” - Chris Torry
“One issue is that many clinicians may not be familiar with autism. Other clinicians, for example, who are familiar with autism may have no training in behavioural addictions or substance use disorders.” - Professor Sam Chamberlain
Professor Julia Sinclair
Julia Sinclair is Professor of Addiction Psychiatry in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton, and honorary consultant in alcohol liaison at University Hospital Southampton.
Dr Janine Robinson
Janine Robinson is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and a specialist in the field of autism in adults. She completed her DClinPsy at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London in 2000.
Professor Sam Chamberlain
Sam Chamberlain is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Southampton, and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.
Chris Torry is autistic and has worked in addiction treatment services for many years. He is part of the SABAA project.
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