This site introduces the neurobehavioural difficulties that may appear throughout the lifespan of individuals with FASD. It is important to recognize that, being a spectrum disorder, FASD can look different for different individuals. Not all individuals with FASD will experience all of the issues presented here. However, this site summarizes the common neurobehavioural features of FASD found in current research. The problems presented on this site are not necessarily gender-specific.
Drug and Alcohol Use
Adolescents and adults with FASD may struggle with drug and alcohol problems.Researchers have found that as many as 35% of individuals with FASD, over 12 years of age, have drug and/or (more commonly) alcohol problems.
Although genetics and environment may be a large factor in an individual’s use of drugs and/or alcohol, prenatal alcohol exposure has been found to be a stronger predictor of drug and alcohol problems in adulthood than family history. Even when issues such as parental addictions, family situation, and prenatal drug exposure are accounted for, individuals with prenatal alcohol exposure still show higher rates of drug, nicotine, and alcohol abuse.
However, that does not mean that substance abuse is inevitable for this population. Rather, that provision of supports to help individuals develop healthy coping skills, structured environments, and healthy social opportunities is very important. See below for more information about supporting healthy pathways and also addressing challenges as they arise.
Drug and alcohol problems are adverse outcomes of FASD.
Some factors that may contribute to drug and alcohol abuse in those with FASD are impulsivity, the desire to fit in socially (particularly in adolescence), and mental health problems. As mentioned above, genetics and environment can also play a role.