Everyday Life Consequences of Substance use in Adult Patients With a Substance use Disorder (SUD) and Co-occurring Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

A Patient's Perspective

Linda M Kronenberg; Karin Slager-Visscher; Peter JJ Goossens; Wim van den Brink; Theo van Achterberg


BMC Psychiatry. 2014;14(264) 

In This Article


With regard to the everyday life consequences of SUD with co-occurring ADHD or ASD, it can be concluded that the underlying mechanisms appear to differ for the groups (i.e., impulsivity vs. passivity) but that the everyday life consequences of having a dual disorder are the same: both groups get caught in a vicious circle of symptoms and substance use. Our findings show SUD co-occurring with ADHD or ASD to be associated with EF impairments and thus have consequences for the daily life functioning and social interactions of patients. To help patients cope with these cognitive deficits, their treatment and care should be aimed at the areas of time management, organization, problem solving, self-control, motivation, and the regulation of emotions.[27] An integrated cognitive behaviour therapy protocol[28] possibly in combination with atomoxetine[29] or high doses of methylphenidate[30] appears promising for the treatment of SUD + ADHD. Further research is nevertheless needed in these areas. To our knowledge, the treatment of co-occurring SUD + ASD has not yet been studied. Considering the negative consequences for the everyday lives of the patients, the treatment possibilities for this dual diagnosis group should be studied.

Further examination of the actual experiences of patients is needed to provide a clear basis for their treatment. The treatment and care experiences of patients with ADHD or ASD and a co-occurring SUD should be examined, for example, in order to gain insight into their opinions about what contributes to their recovery and which coping strategies should be reinforced and stimulated.