Autism and Alcohol – My Autistic Experience with Drinking

Patreon members and YouTube channel members had access to this video on November 2, 2021. The video’s public release will be December 22 2021.


All right. Welcome back to your regularly scheduled Wednesday morning ramblings, depending on where you are in the world. This week, I am going to be talking about autism, and being Autistic.. and … alcohol.

I promised this hasn’t been, I haven’t been drinking. This is coffee. It’s actually too early in the morning. This is symbolic… but, but you get what I’m getting here.

Let’s dive in.

Maybe I’ve had too much coffee, also. Good thing that was empty.

This is one of those videos that has to come with a disclaimer, because I am going to be sharing my individual experience, as an Autistic Person with alcohol, and also a bit of the experience from some other Autistic People I know, who also I know would be okay with me sharing their experience as well, though I am going to omit names, to keep identities invisible.

My experience may not be the same as your experience, if you are an Autistic Person. So, if your experience differs from mine, I do invite you to share, especially if your experience differs from mine, in the comments below. If your experience is similar, and you relate, please feel free to share that too.

 NeuroTypicals, please, as I have said before in previous videos, remember that this is just my experience; and please read the other Autistic People commenting, to see that experiences may vary.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s go ahead and jump in:

Before I talk about alcohol, and my experience with alcohol, I want to say that, in general, my experience as a NeuroDivergent Person, has been that chemicals, and substances, and medications do not work with me the same way that they work in NeuroTypical brains.

For example, which we know, ADHDers: caffeine works differently with us than it does with NeuroTypical people. A lot of medications don’t seem to work the same way, with my brain, as they are intended. I tend to have a lot of side effects and reactions with medications. So in general, I know substances work differently for me.

I have known other Autistic People, both personally related to me, and who I would consider close family and friends, who have similar experiences with substances not working the same for them, including alcohol and some of you online have also made comments that substances, and medications, and things like that, don’t work the same in your brain as they do for NeuroTypicals.

 If this is you, I’d love to invite you to continue that conversation in the comments below, as we talk about Autistic experience with alcohol, and I share my experience with alcohol… now, now, now I’m going to share it now.

Something unfortunate, that I see, is NeuroDivergent People self-medicating with alcohol, to numb themselves to the discomforts in the NeuroTypical world.

From personal experience, I can say that I used to use alcohol because I had social anxiety, and had all of these mandatory work networking happy hours and events, where there was always free alcohol; and alcohol made the anxiety numb, and let me tolerate being in these situations that, if I was listening to my gut, and my self, and how I really felt, I would have chosen not to go to anyway. I was putting a bandaid on things.

One or two drinks, and I noticed that the sensory experience, if it is a bit overwhelming, can sometimes become a bit less intense for me, and it is easier for me to go with the flow a little bit, as my inhibitions go down, but it doesn’t take as much alcohol, as it takes other people, to get me tipsy.

 Often the boundary between enough alcohol to numb my senses a little bit, and enough alcohol to make me dizzy, and give me vertigo, and make me start getting sick, is a very fine line, that I could be tiptoeing very close to. It can go from sensory norming, to sensory overload. Often I will get to that sensory overload point, before I actually start to get tipsy, and start to get a lot of those feel good feelings, that people seem to be chasing with alcohol, so, alcohol has never really been that magic thing for me.

 I don’t, I don’t love it, but as I am growing older, and I have become a legal adult, I have learned to drink responsibly, and I may have a couple of alcoholic beverages on occasion, but I usually don’t have more than a few in a very short time period by a few.

I mean, Usually two. Two tends to be my limit limit. Sometimes I might have three, if I am stretching them out over many, many hours now that I don’t force myself into situations that make me socially anxious, really like alcohol, the taste of it, unless it’s in a really nicely flavored drink or the effects of it. I don’t like to be drunk, so that tends to not be my goal.

I- I’ve changed a lot, because before it was like this bandaid, which was probably a very unhealthy way for me to be using alcohol.

 The thing is, with the NeuroDivergent existence, in the NeuroTypical world, it’s just so uncomfortable sometimes, to live in a world that wasn’t built for you, or with your needs in mind.

 I understand why so many NeuroDivergent People are likely trying to numb their pain with alcohol. I wish we would talk a bit more about the connection between addiction and alcoholism and being NeuroDivergent, because I have personally had this impact NeuroDivergent loved ones, and people close to me.

I see that, with the people I know and care about, who have gone through and experienced troubles with, addiction to alcohol, and other addictions and substances. Those people were also dealing with other pains in their life, that they were trying to numb, and they were trying to survive.

A lot of this is because people don’t talk about mental health, or don’t talk about their struggles. All of these different things contribute to, you know, the stigma, but just like when I was dealing with really, really, really bad social anxiety, I was using alcohol as a bandaid, to get through that pain, when I was struggling with my mental health.

This is a heavy and a complex topic. There are the neurological, and physiological components to how the alcohol impacts the NeuroDivergent brain.

I would love for science to look more into those differences, as well as how other chemicals and medications, the differences in those things, in NeuroDivergent and NeuroTypical brains. That really does fascinate me, but also looking at why NeuroDivergent People, become addicted to things, and the systematic pains that are embedded in society right now, that are contributing to increases of addiction, in NeuroDivergent People.

Unfortunately, there is just so much pain in this world, as I’ve said, a lot of nuance to this issue, and I would love to invite anyone here who is feeling safe to share their experience, to go ahead and do so in the comments below. If you feel safe for you to do so. Of course, if not, please, please don’t.

I want to continue this conversation, because I think it’s an important issue, that is a bit taboo and doesn’t get covered.

Thank you, so much, for hanging out this week, and sitting through a very serious video, if you are still here and watching all the way down to the end. I am really grateful for you doing that.

If you found this helpful or educational, and you were still here, I’d love for you to go ahead and hit that thumbs up; so I know that this was useful to you.

 If it was useful enough that you think someone else may find it useful, please share this video, so that it can reach and help more people. I am really grateful for each and every one of you, for being here, commenting, sharing your experience, sharing this video so that more people may find it, and always giving your feedback, and video suggestions for the future. I could not do this without you.

Also of course, as always, thanks to the Patreon subscribers, YouTube channel members, and Facebook supporters, who do the little bit of monetary subscription to help me create this quality content. This blog is made possible by viewers like you: web hosting transcriptioning software, things like that… video editing.

Would- wouldn’t be possible, with- without the viewers; so I always want to express my gratitude for you all. I couldn’t do it without you, so thanks for being here.

I will see you next Wednesday. Bye.


Help me get the word out!!! – If you like what I do, and would like more, please consider subscribing on Patreon. This blog is made possible by support from readers like YOU!  (Sharing my content is also, equally helpful!)

With gratitude, – Lyric

5 thoughts on “Autism and Alcohol – My Autistic Experience with Drinking

  1. I am actually a major wine enthusiast. I don’t drink for the psychoactive effects so much as I do for the enjoyment of the beverage in terms of flavor. I approach wine with the intention of appreciating its color and appearance, the various aromas it gives off when swirled, and flavor notes as it hits all the different sections of my palate.

    I don’t like the feeling of intoxication at all, nor the after effects thereof, so these days I never drink to those levels, despite having done so previously in my life. I agree that it is excruciatingly painful to live life on the autism spectrum while living in a world that has been socially engineered for neurotypicals, so I understand the allure of mind-altering substances for those of us who don’t fit the neurotypical mold. It is a conversation we should be having, but sadly I don’t see it happening enough.

  2. Caffeine doesn’t affect me the way it affects most people, but not because I’m autistic. I found out a couple years ago that I have a genetic quirk that makes me metabolize caffeine too slowly for it to really do anything to me.

    As for alcohol… I’ve never been drunk. Never wanted to. I do consume alcohol occasionally: a single drink, two or three times a year. Contrary to what some people insist about me (maybe because of my long hair?), I have never felt any inclination to “do drugs,” either. (If I could get the sort of medical marijuana that helps with fibromyalgia pain, I’d try that in a heartbeat, but that would no more be “doing drugs” than taking ibuprofen is.) I’m not saying I cope well with stress and such; I’m just saying my not-good coping strategies don’t involve chemicals.

  3. I’ve never been comfortable in social situations, and as drinking (often to excess) had always been part of the New Zealand social fabric, whenever I found myself at an event with alcohol, I would inevitably end up with a drink in my hand. At such events, I felt like an outsider – I was there physically, but not really taking part. Under those circumstances, when one has a drink in one’s hand, and nothing else to do, one tends to drink from said glass.

    As you might guess, I frequently ended up drinking far too much. My “solution” to this problem was to have a lit cigarette in my other hand. So instead of drinking, I’d smoke, taking just an occasional sip of the drink. This was in the days when smoking was a socially acceptable activity. So one could say that I was a social drinker and a social smoker. as I did neither when on my own.

    Times have changed, and now smoking never occurs at social events and drinking to excess is less socially acceptable than it once was, and I have changed with it. I’m still a fish out of water in social events, but these days food is usually always available as well as a choice of non-alcoholic drinks – neither were provided in in the 1960s and 1970s. So now I’ll be seen with a non-alcoholic drink or an occasional wine in one hand, and a plate of food in the other.

  4. I’m the same ~ I historically cannot handle medications or anything mind altering. I’ve just said “I’m allergic to alcohol” because in effect, I am.

    Nothing works for me, save medical marijuana.
    I’ve tried whole cocktails of psyche meds and nothing worked.
    The only one that didn’t make me wretch was Abilify ~ and I hear that is actually noticed to help Autists.

  5. Alcohol for me is similar. It dampens the anxiety, which is related to not knowing how to act, and not wanting to behave in a way that makes people more likely to exclude me.

    My limit is higher, because I’m bigger. I can have two drinks and not notice. At some point though, if I drink too much, it affects speech, equilibrium, etc. I’ll notice when I try to use that function, but if I’m observing passively, I won’t notice. This level depends on food, drink strength, time, but is probably 4-5 drinks in 90 mins.

    There’s a third level where inhibitory anxiety is suppressed. There are behaviors I’m conditioned not to do which ratber abruptly become desirable. If I notice this, I promptly stop drinking. The disinhibition lasts until I no longer notice any other effects.

    If I get yummy drinks, I consume them very quickly. When I think about it, I will often go with harsher things, such as bourbon rocks just so I sip it more slowly. The complexity is a sensory reward when sipped slowly, so it’s not a negative trade-off. It’s just a way to moderate my default network (autopilot).

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