Autism and alcohol

Sarah Hendrickx and Matthew Tinsley discuss the potential links between autism and alcohol addiction, and the need for improved autism awareness amongst alcohol support services.

Throughout my time of working in the autism field, the subject of alcoholism in relation to autism continues to pop up on a fairly frequent basis. It was this that led me to suggest to my autistic friend and recovering alcoholic Matt Tinsley, that we write a book on the subject back in 2008 (Asperger syndrome and Alcohol, Hendrickx & Tinsley, JKP). At the time, I contacted every expert in the autism field that I could think of (Tony Attwood, Uta Frith to name just a couple) to ask if they thought Matt and I were on to something and all said: Yes, there is definitely a potential link, but it would be tricky to research. One of the main reasons for this is that many adults are undiagnosed, and alcohol can act as a successful coping strategy, hiding autistic difficulties for many years before the alcohol becomes a problem in itself.

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