Addiction and Autism: A Remarkable Comorbidity?Patricia JM van Wijngaarden-Cremers1,2*, Wim Van den Brink MD3 and Rutger Jan van der Gaag2
- *Corresponding Author:
- Patricia van Wijngaarden-Cremers
Radboud University Medical Centre Nijmegen – Karakter University
Centre Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, The Netherlands
E-mail: [email protected]
Received date: May 05, 2014; Accepted date: July 20, 2014; Published date: July 25, 2014
Citation: Wijngaarden-Cremers PJM, Brink WV, Gaag RJ (2014) Addiction and Autism: A Remarkable Comorbidity?. J Alcohol Drug Depend 2:170. doi:10.4172/2329-6488.1000170
Copyright: © 2014 Wijngaarden-Cremers PJM, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Objective: Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are well known for high prevalence’s of comorbid conditions especially anxiety, obsessions, depression and challenging behaviours. In this article we will consider the evidence for an eventual comorbidity between ASD and Addiction (Substance Use Disorders (SUD) and explore the possible underlying explanations.
Methods: A literature study on similarities between Addiction and ASD (at a phenotypical and neurobiological level) as well as a case note review on a year cohort of 200 consecutive admissions in an adult addiction psychiatry unit was studied here.
Results: In our pilot-survey 8 (men) on 118 patients were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. This is substantially higher than in the general population (1%) but in line with other European studies.
Autism spectrum disorders and addiction can both be perceived as developmental disorders in which a genetic predisposition and vulnerability interact with environmental factors. They can be induced by early stress thus affecting the proper functioning of the cortico-striatal dopaminergic regulation systems (and also the HPA axis). There is growing evidence that ASD and SUD share developmental dysregulations of the limbic and sensorimotor cortico-striatal regulations loops.
Conclusions: There are clear indications that a possible comorbidity of substance abuse disorder should be considered in cases of individuals with autism spectrum disorders. This finding is important for clinicians to take into account in assessing patients with addiction problems or ASD.