Tourette Syndrome And Substance Abuse Dual Diagnosis

Tourette’s syndrome induces repeated bodily and vocal movements, which can make someone stressed. It’s common for people with Tourette’s to engage in substance abuse to mask feelings of shame or discomfort. Drug use has the potential of worsening symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome while developing an addiction.

People with both mental health disorders and addiction face many challenges in their everyday lives.

Tourette syndrome (TS) or Tourette’s syndrome (a movement disorder involving repetitive or unwanted movements, sounds, or thoughts) may create feelings of embarrassment and alienation.

Some turn to drug addiction to deal with the extra stress. However, substance abuse may increase anxiety and worsen the symptoms of Tourette syndrome.

Below we’ll explore the relationship between addiction and Tourette syndrome and treatment approaches to help manage the condition and drug abuse.

What Is Tourette Syndrome?

Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by tics and involuntary and repetitive movements. Tic disorders are usually divided into two groups, simple and complex.

Some simple tics are:

  • arm jerking
  • eye blinking
  • head bobbing
  • shoulder shrugging

Complex tics may involve any of the above movements combined with vocalization or more violent involuntary movements.

For example, someone with a violent tic may randomly punch themselves, yell racial slurs, or bark repeatedly. The inappropriate use of words is called coprolalia.

The Link Between Tourette Syndrome And Substance Use Disorder

All mental illnesses, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), can create alienation and depression, both of which are risk factors of addiction.

However, the symptoms of Tourette syndrome are more apparent than other illnesses. People with TS may feel shame, embarrassment, and isolation due to their tics.

Substance abuse may sound like an appropriate option when wishing to temper feelings. Drug use fills the body with dopamine and acts as a temporary, but harmful, escape.

Substances can lead to poor judgment, irrational behavior, and loss of control. If ingesting opioids or stimulants, there is an increased risk of addiction.

In active addiction, securing, ingesting, and withdrawing from substances may intensify anxiety, isolation from your community, and even trouble with the law.

Effects Of Drug Use On Tourette Syndrome

Tourette syndrome can be highly affected depending on what drug is taken. Some use depressants like marijuana or alcohol to cope with symptoms.

But self-medicating with drug and alcohol use can lead to dependence and eventually alcohol addiction.

Most drugs harm TS. Certain substances can create repeated movement on their own. Those with TS may find their involuntary movements are increased while under the influence of such drugs.

Drugs of abuse that incite movement include:

  • cocaine
  • MDMA
  • amphetamine and methamphetamine
  • opiates, such as heroin and fentanyl

While substances can induce movements, there is no evidence to suggest drugs can lead to developing Tourette syndrome.

How Common Is Tourette Syndrome And Substance Abuse?

There is a high prevalence of Tourette syndrome and substance abuse. A study shows that 8.1% of people with TS and other disorders develop alcohol use disorders.

The same study also found that:

  • 6.9% of females with TS experience other co-occurring mental disorders
  • 6% of males with TS also have a substance use disorder
  • 4.5% of people with TS also experience alcohol use disorder
  • 6.2% of people with TS develop a substance use disorder

Treating Tourette Syndrome And Addiction

There are healthier and more effective ways to manage the symptoms of Tourette syndrome and addiction.

Dual diagnosis treatment implements different approaches to treat co-occurring disorders. Below we’ll take a look at some of these approaches.

Therapeutic Approaches

Evidence-based therapy offers treatments conducted by mental health professionals to help clients relieve stress and develop coping mechanisms.

Some common therapeutic approaches for addiction and TS are:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Offers insight into the causes of addiction and how to handle anxiety from TS and the possibility of relapse.
  • Group therapy: Provides community and examples of recovery through sharing and listening with others.
  • Medication-assisted treatment: Can help lower the severity of tics and drug withdrawal symptoms.

Holistic Approaches

Holistic approaches to treating drug abuse and mental disorders are great ways to find a connection between mind and body.

Some may wish to stay away from the side effects of medication or want to mix holistic approaches with talk therapy.

Holistic approaches that may alleviate symptoms of TS and addiction are:

  • meditation, yoga, breathwork, or tai chi
  • running, hiking, or walking long distances
  • creative writing or journaling
  • music or art therapy

Recover From Substance Abuse Today

Our rehab center in Massachusetts can help you or a loved one manage Tourette syndrome and find recovery from drug or alcohol abuse.

At Spring Hill Recovery Center, we offer inpatient programs, outpatient options, and other addiction treatment programs. Reach out to a specialist today to learn more about our facility.

  1. Better Health Channel — Tourette Syndrome
  2. Centers For Disease Control And Prevention — Data & Statistics on Tourette Syndrome
  3. National Library Of Medicine — Genetic Factors In Substance Abuse Based On Studies Of Tourette Syndrome And ADHD Probands and Relatives

Written by Spring Hill Recovery Editorial Team

© 2024 Spring Hill Recovery | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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