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Author Topic: ASD & High ACE Score Increases Likelihood of Substance (Ab)Use  (Read 2335 times)

Offline Frank Sterle Jr.

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ASD & High ACE Score Increases Likelihood of Substance (Ab)Use
« on: February 25, 2021, 07:51:41 PM »
Notable adverse childhood experience (ACE) trauma — especially when its effect is amplified by an accompanying autism spectrum disorder (ASD) — suffered by adolescents can readily lead to a substance use disorder. This, of course, can also lead to an adulthood of debilitating self-medicating.

The greater the drug-induced euphoria or escape one attains from its use, the more one wants to repeat the experience; and the more intolerable one finds their sober reality, the more pleasurable that escape should be perceived. By extension, the greater one’s mental pain or trauma while sober, the greater the need for escape from reality, thus the more addictive the euphoric escape-form will likely be.

If the adolescent is also highly sensitive, both the drug-induced euphoria and, conversely, the come-down effect or return to their burdensome reality will be heightened thus making the substance-use more addicting.

As a highly sensitive child, teenager and adult with ASD—an official condition with which I greatly struggled yet of which I was not even aware until I was a half-century old—compounded by a high ACE score, I largely learned this for myself from my own substance (ab)use experience. The self-medicating method I utilized during most of my pre-teen years, however, was eating.

Meanwhile, in many straight and NT minds such addicts have somehow committed a moral crime. But serious life trauma, notably adverse childhood experiences, is typically behind a substance abuser’s debilitating lead-ball-and-chain self-medicating lifestyle.

Generally, there’s a formidable reason why a person repeatedly consumes and gets heavily hooked on an unregulated often deadly chemical that eventually destroys their life and even that of a loved-one. It all really doesn’t happen out of boredom.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I now strongly feel that not only should all school teachers have received ASD training, but that there should further be an inclusion in standard high school curriculum of a child development course which in part would also teach students about the often debilitating condition.

It would explain to students how, among other aspects of the condition, people with ASD (including those with higher functioning autism) are often deemed willfully ‘difficult’ and socially incongruent, when in fact such behavior is really not a choice.

While some other school curriculum is controversial (e.g. SOGI, especially in rural residential settings), it nonetheless was implemented. The same attitude and policy should be applied to teaching high school students about ASD, the developing mind and, especially, how to enable a child’s mind to develop properly.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2021, 08:22:01 PM by Frank Sterle Jr. »

Offline Frank Sterle Jr.

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Re: ASD & High ACE Score Increases Likelihood of Substance (Ab)Use
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2021, 02:54:16 PM »
While a high score on the adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) questionnaire is bad, there can be a counteracting effect if one also scores high on the Resilience questionnaire. [The two questionnaires can be accessed at:]

Resilience is a formal measure of one’s emotional/psychological strengths. For example, one may have had an uncle or grandmother who was a stable, strong and loving presence always available when one’s parent(s) was/were dysfunctional or abusive. 
Society tends to perceive thus treat human procreation like we will somehow be innately inclined to sufficiently understand and appropriately nurture our children’s naturally developing minds and needs. I find that mentality — however widely practiced — wrong and needing re-evaluation, however unlikely that will ever happen.

What it essentially comes down to is, proactive measures in order to avoid having to later reactively treat (often with tranquilizing medication) potentially serious and life-long symptoms caused by a dysfunctional environment, neglect and/or abuse. And if we’re to avoid the dreadedly invasive conventional reactive means of intervention—that of governmental forced removal of children from dysfunctional/abusive home environments—maybe we then should be willing to try an unconventional proactive means of preventing some future dysfunctional/abusive family situations. Secondary high school child development science curriculum might be one way.

Also, mental health-care needs to generate as much societal concern as does physical health, even though psychological illness/dysfunction typically is not immediately visually observable.


“It has been said that if child abuse and neglect were to disappear today, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual would shrink to the size of a pamphlet in two generations, and the prisons would empty. Or, as Bernie Siegel, MD, puts it, quite simply, after half a century of practicing medicine, ‘I have become convinced that our number-one public health problem is our childhood’.” (Childhood Disrupted, pg.228).


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