Susan Boyle, Asperger’s and the Potential for Addiction

After making her way onto the stage at Britain’s Got Talent in 2009 and stunning audiences with her angelic voice, Susan Boyle shot to stardom overnight. After releasing an album and it becoming the number one album of 2009, Boyle has continued to record albums, with her latest being a collection of Christmas songs. But, that is not why she is making headlines lately. Instead, her recent mental health revelation is what is grabbing attention.

Asperger’s and Boyle

After noticing some troubling symptoms that were never fully diagnosed when she was a child, Boyle went to her doctor and found out that she has Asperger’s. When she was younger, she was told that she had brain damage, which caused her to experience some of the many side effects of this disorder. Shortly after finding out the news, Boyle went public with her diagnosis, making her one of the very few public figures to disclose a significant mental condition.

The Connection Between Asperger’s and Addiction

Luckily for Boyle, her Asperger’s has not lead to substance abuse as it does in many other individuals afflicted with the same disorder. There are a number of reasons why addiction and Asperger’s tend to go hand-in-hand, many of them including the following:

  • Poor social skills – Possibly the most common trait of Asperger’s includes poor social skills. It can be increasingly difficult for individuals with this disorder to interact with others without feeling uncomfortable. This often causes them to have trouble making and keeping friends, which can lead to loneliness, depression and the increased interest in using substances such as drugs to cope.
  • Communication troubles – Without proper communication skills, people with Asperger’s can grow tremendously frustrated and angry when attempting to communicate their thoughts, needs, and/or opinions. They can also take words of others very literally, causing hurt feelings. Because of these communication troubles, some people with Asperger’s might attempt to use to get attention, or use to get release from the anger they are experiencing because they cannot communicate well.

While many people who are diagnosed with Asperger’s (including Boyle) are able to receive treatment that allows them to improve upon areas of concern such as those listed above, many people do not get that care. As a result, they become much more likely to start abusing drugs and/or alcohol as a method of coping with the symptoms that can continue to plague their every day life. The best and most effective way to avoid this from occurring is to seek help immediately if Asperger’s (or any other mental health condition) is suspected.

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