#Aspergers and alcohol


Matthew Tinsley was diagnosed with PDD-NOS in 2004, aged 43.

This book is the autobiographical account of his experiences living as an undiagnosed Autistic adult and his increasing reliance on alcohol.



The book describes in detail, the destructive effects of alcohol that Matthew endured, during the first 20 years or so of his working life.

But for me, the real story here is the chronic anxiety that Autistic people live with.

  • Particularly those in a working environment

Matthew talks about how alcohol would allow him to feel more ‘normal’, when interacting with people socially.

  • He also talks very candidly about his alcohol consumption at home and at work
  • Just to keep his anxiety at a tolerable level that allowed him to ‘function’

But underneath this, Matthew describes what he calls secondary alcoholism

  • The use of alcohol to deaden his chronic anxiety
  • Rather than any direct physical need for alcohol
  • A psychological addiction rather than a physical addiction
  • Although if left unchecked, this can and does evolve into a full physical addiction to alcohol

Matthew’s alcohol consumption almost cost him his life, but he managed to pull himself back from the abyss.



Matthew has been sober since 2004.

  • He is now a Consultant with UK based Hendrickx Associates
    • an Autism/ADHD/Neurodiversity training and support consultancy
  • He is also a regular speaker on training courses BBC television


I would encourage anyone on the Autism Spectrum (and their loved ones) to read this book.

  • Regardless of whether or not you drink alcohol and
  • Regardless of your level of alcohol consumption


Matthew’s means of coping with his anxiety prior to 2004 were certainly extreme.

But the underlying anxiety that caused him to seek out relief, in the form of excessive alcohol consumption, is common to most if not all Autistic people. Making this an invaluable study of the Autistic experience of anxiety.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. josephine smith
    Jul 23, 2012 @ 21:06:58

    hello, i havnt managed to read this book as yet, but look forward to being able to do so, i feel as though there is a connection between AS and becomeing additiced to drinking or drugs due to the nature of the feelings that can arise form them and the ability to feel ‘normal’
    i’ve explained my expierences of the drinking over on my blog to raise awareness of the problems.


  2. ischemgeek
    Mar 04, 2014 @ 06:18:43

    Addiction runs in my extended family. For that reason, though I’ve been occasionally tempted to use a bit of “liquid courage,” to get through an anxiousmaking situation, I don’t. And I never drink more than once a month. Not worth the risk.

    If I didn’t know about my family history, though, I could definitely see me following his path – I am a very anxious person by nature, and alcohol does help to take the edge off.


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