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Increased Risk for Substance Use-Related Problems in Autism Spectrum Disorders

A 2016 study conducted in Sweden found that the risk of substance use-related problems was highest in individuals with Autism. Additionally, the risk extends to family which suggests a genetic or environmental liability.

The study looked at 26,986 autistic individuals and 96,577 neurotypical family members. The study found that having an ASD doubled the risk of substance use problems. Those with comorbidity of ADHD had an even higher rate of substance problems.

While substance use-related problems have historically been considered rare in individuals on the spectrum, clinical observation has illustrated otherwise. This study found that autistic individuals had a substantially increased risk of substance-related problems such as substance use disorder, somatic disease linked to alcohol misuse, substance-related crime, and death.

Citation: Butwicka, A., Langstom, N., Larsson, H., Lundstrom, S., Serlachius, E. Almqvist, C., Frisen, L., Lichtenstein, P. (2017). Increased Risk for Substance Use-Related Problems in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Population-Based Cohort Study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47, 80-89. doi: 10.1007/s10803-016-2914-2

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