Alcohol and cigarettes - do they affect ASD differnetly

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Joined: 12 Jul 2017
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16 Jul 2017, 3:46 pm

So my most recent diagnoses is HFA. Used to be depression and anxiety, then Bipolar NOS, then bipolar affective disorder and now possibly HFA.

I never developed a tolerance to alcohol. In my forties, two beers still gets me quite drunk.

Also I smoke cigarettes. When I was a kid at 13 and first started they'd knock me for six and I'd have to hide in my dad's shed and lie down for an hour.

Now I've cut down to 3 a day - 1 in the morning, one in the evening and one before bed.

3 a day and they still kill me, make me exhausted, tired, pain in my chest, anxious etc.

The crazy / paradoxical thing is while I'm feeling this intense nervous exhaustion and fatigue deep in all my fibres of my being I can still do push ups or go for run etc, so it has no effect on my muscular strength.

I've had checks for asthma, COPD etc and passed 100%, had blood analyses done, chest x rays, they all show my lungs and heart to be perfectly fine.

So why do 3 cigarettes a day still have such a massive effect on my nervous system?

Could it be due to a weaker immune system? I have read a bit that people with Asperger's can have weaker immune systems.

What about you folks do acohol and cigarettes affect you ore than they seem to affect NT's.

Maybe my nervous system is just fatigued after years of anxiety and depression.

I find it really hard to quit though even with several e-cig rigs I have, smoking seems to ground me and I feel lost without it, like a new personality, all at sea and lost.


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Joined: 3 Sep 2016
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16 Jul 2017, 3:53 pm

Drugs affect everyone differently so I doubt what you are describing is down to ASD , hope someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

I'm sure giving up smoking feels impossible but many people successfully do it , you just need to find the right way to do it. If you are serious about giving up smoking you'll just have to try every method out there until you find something that works.

P.S I'm not Dx so you will have to wait if you want an Aspie's view

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Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
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13 Nov 2017, 12:14 pm

I think they do. Personally, I find alcohol affects me to behave in a bad way to the extent it has been involved in bad decision making and the loss of relationships. I react to it in the same way as some do to food additives. ie weird behaviour. It takes several days to leave my system. Therefore, a couple of beers every three days means my decision making is permanently affected to some extent. It is hard/impossible to undo the damage caused. I am not sure if its the alcohol or an alergy to something else in any alcoholic drink. I suggest Aspies monitor carefully how they feel for the days following a drink to see how long it takes before your nervous system returns fully to normal.
First cig of day is like a large rush. I now smoke half as first of day. I have stopped drinking and cigs are next on list but hard to do with hi anxiety levels and little pleasure in life.

Tufted Titmouse
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13 Nov 2017, 12:34 pm

I haven't been diagnosed yet and I don't smoke but I know that I personally can't tolerate alcohol.

I can't stand the taste and it actually feels like it burns so much going down my throat (soda does this too) so I avoid it. If I do drink (maybe once or twice a year) it has to be something sweet like a wine cooler or a frozen drink (not heavy on the alcohol).

Married with 2 children.

Diagnosed with severe ADHD and High Functioning Aspergers.

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13 Nov 2017, 12:35 pm

I wouldn't know because I've never smoked and I don't drink. I don't need such things wrecking my life and body even more than just living has already done.

This makes me think I was never really a teenager, even though I physically looked like one. It's considered "normal" for teens to smoke and underage drink because a) they're curious and all the warnings about it just makes them want to try it even more and b) they firmly believe in their immortality and smoking and drinking doesn't normally cause immediate death.

Put the virtually non-existent lack of sexual drive and there you go. I was never really a teenager, and I'm not really an adult, either. :roll:

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14 Nov 2017, 4:21 pm

I don't smoke and I don't drink alcohol - I hate the smell of both these things so that alone is a major turnoff for me.

I know long-term smoking damages your lungs whether you're NT or autistic and I can't say how people are affected
differently by them, but when I went to a residential at uni with other autistic freshers, I remember them saying that people on the spectrum generally have a higher tolerance for alcohol than NT people. Whether that's true or not I can't tell you, but while I was there, several people had lots of booze, but most of them were only a bit tipsy (e.g. giggly and slightly staggering). The only lad who got completely drunk was somebody who drank a RIDICULOUS amount which even the others found way too much.

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14 Nov 2017, 10:04 pm

I have a few beers once, maybe twice a week, and I do enjoy it; but I've learned to be careful.

Interesting comment from Leahcar about greater tolerance. I kind of have a theory about that from my own experience. I find that, up to a certain point, I do seem to be less 'out of control' than the NTs that I'm with after a few drinks. But I get the sense that this is because I just habitually exercise a lot of self-control in order to "pass", because I spent so much of my life feeling that I could never let my autistic traits be seen. I fight the disinhibition from the alcohol that lets everyone else 'let go' and have a good time, and trying to "pass" is so ingrained that I just can't stop myself from resisting it.


If I have a couple too many, all my "passing" skills can go out of the window very rapidly, and then I'll either succumb to severe anxiety and run away, or I'll make a complete fool of myself somehow (and then run away!) The 'running away' part has left me in some real tight spots when I was younger. Quite a few times, I've managed to walk/stagger miles away from home and wake up in peculiar places with no idea where I am, how I got there, or how to get home. I don't need to be absolutely "blotto" to end up doing that, because 'run away and hide' is my default meltdown behaviour, and if I really have to fly, I'm very hard to stop. I just have to be drunk enough for my social reasoning to fail me, and the transition from 'too sober' to 'too drunk' can be quite sudden.

As for the ciggies. Well done to the OP for getting down to three a day! I've given up and gone back to it more times that I care to count over the last 30 years, and it's always straight back to chaining them without noticing that I'm even doing it. I wonder sometimes if there isn't something very 'stimmy' about smoking, especially if, like me, you roll your own. One thing I have learned is that smoking can affect the uptake of quite a few different 'brain' medications - it's something doctors and nurses watch out for when patients who smoke are taken into psychiatric wards. The last time I quit, I was in the middle of a course of meds, and the dose was suddenly very much too high a couple of days after my "last ever" :roll: ciggie. Well worth checking for anyone who is determined to quit and has to take medication.

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14 Nov 2017, 10:15 pm

For me cigarettes did tend to relax me quite a bit and helped a lot with stress but because I have asthma this was not a good idea at all.

Alcohol, I do like to drink beer every once in awhile and it has tremendous effect in helping me relax as well as getting to sleep but if I drink too much along with all the antidepressants I take this can have a very unexpected and deleterious effect on the human psyche.

I'm sure everybody's else's experiences with cigarettes and alcohol will differ from mine.

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