Antisocial Personality Disorder and Substance Abuse

Antisocial personality disorder is most commonly used to describe people who have a tendency to violate, disrespect and disregard the rights of other people. This diagnosis is only given to those who are over the age of 18, when these traits are observed in minors they are not treated the same way as they are for adults due to the instability of the personality in these formative years.

The signs of this disorder can manifest themselves in sober people, but they can often be magnified when combined with substances like alcohol and narcotics. A dual diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder and substance abuse is not a rare thing to encounter. The archetype for this disorder dates all the way back to the days of Aristotle, when a student of his named Theophrastus described the personality type of an “unscrupulous man”.  Since then, we have a much greater understanding of ASPD and how it can be impacted and heighted by substance use and abuse. Substance abuse of some form is reported in over 80% of ASPD patients (source),

Antisocial Personality Disorder and Alcohol

antisocial personality disorder and substance abuseThe effects of alcohol, although they vary from person to person, are widely known and recognized. Some people experience aggression while under the influence of alcohol, but not everyone. Research has suggested that people who are suffering from antisocial personality disorder are more likely to become aggressive after consuming alcohol. This same study concludes that not only do people with ASPD have a higher tendency to become aggressive when consuming alcohol, but they are also more likely to exhibit signs of alcoholism in the first place.

Antisocial Personality Disorder and Marijuana

There isn’t any one single mental disorder or personality type that is most common amongst users of marijuana; however people with certain conditions can be predisposed to self-medication through the use of marijuana due to the effects this drug has on people who deal with anxiety. Earlier it was mentioned that over 80% of people who are diagnosed with ASPD receive that as part of a dual-diagnosis along with substance abuse, and this is because substance abuse is a major diagnostic criteria for antisocial personality disorder.

Facts about ASPD

The following bullet-points will serve as a quick reference guide to some key facts and statistics about antisocial personality disorder and the connections to substance abuse.

  • This disorder has shown itself in all types of people from all backgrounds, races, religions and genders.
  • It can be treated and prevented if the precursors are recognized at a young age.
  • Sufferers of ASPD are more likely to become aggressive after drinking alcohol.
  • Symptoms and signs of ASPD include physically fighting, being deceitful, frequently breaking the law, being a bully towards people or animals, lack of empathy, unable to learn from past mistakes, being irresponsible.
  • People suffering from this condition can be very scary to deal with at times.
  • 80% of people with antisocial personality disorder also suffer from substance abuse.

Final Thoughts on Antisocial Personality Disorder

As a substance abuse counselor, you will often encounter people that fit the profile of antisocial personality disorder. Learning to recognize the signs of APSD, learning how to deal with them, and learning how to give the best counsel to those who suffer from this condition will begin to feel like second nature as you gain experience.

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