Symptoms of Antisocial Disorder
Antisocial personality disorder is diagnosed around the age of 15, when children start to demonstrate unusual social patterns that persist after that time, according to PsychCentral. Unusual behaviors include:
- Lack of empathy
Teens like this struggle and strain against the rules imposed by the outside world. They don’t see the need to pay attention to the laws of good behavior that keep society functioning smoothly. If there’s something these teens want to do, they feel as though they should just act, even if that act ends up hurting someone else. These teens just don’t see why they shouldn’t do anything they’d like to do, regardless of the consequences to themselves or others.
When researchers writing for the Journal of Personality Disorders examined teens who seemed to have an antisocial disorder and compared them to healthy teens, they found subtle differences among the antisocial disorder types. In fact, researchers suggest that there are five different subtypes of antisocial disorders that could be in play in teens.
But despite these differences, teens with this disorder tend to share many of the same traits, habits and characteristics. And many of those shared attributes have to do with drug abuse and addiction.
An impulsive teen, unwilling to follow the rules, might reasonably be drawn to drugs or alcohol. These teens see no reason to pay attention to parental advice about drug abuse, and laws against that abuse don’t work as an effective deterrent. These teens also lack self-control, so they may not be able to stop their use when it starts. A child like this might develop an addiction in no time at all, and that drug use can make the behavior much more alarming and severe.
Drugs of abuse can magnify a teen’s inability to empathize with others, and drugs can also make teen with antisocial disorder more violent. A teen with an antisocial disorder and an addiction can be a teen who is aggressive, angry and upset almost all the time. And that teen might be unwilling to change anything to make the situation better.
Treatment Options for Antisocial Personality Disorder
Antisocial personality disorders can’t be diagnosed in people younger than 18, per an analysis in Psychology Today, and there’s good reason for that delay. Teens are in a time of transition and growth. While their behaviors might be alarming and they might seem very permanent, there’s still time for these young people to change their thought patterns, behaviors and opinions. They don’t have to keep these behaviors as they age. Treatment options such as therapy can cause a big shift.
Psychotherapy sessions, which are the cornerstone of most programs that aim to help people with substance abuse and/or mental illness, are designed to help people with antisocial disorders to reengage with the world around them.
Rather than simply acting on an urge without thinking about others, someone going through therapy will learn to simply pay attention to what others might want or need. Is acting the best idea for everyone, including the individual and/or their community.
Psychotherapy is also meant to help teens learn to control their behaviors concerning drugs. They’ll identify cravings for drugs, along with the situations that can trigger those cravings, and they’ll use techniques like meditation or positive self-talk to pass through a craving without acting upon it.
These therapies can be given singly, between a teen and a therapist, or they can be given in group settings. But typically, the therapy moves at a very slow pace. Teens are given the opportunity to make connections with their treatment teams, learning to trust them and testing the team’s willingness to shift or be bullied. Then, the therapy progresses based on the strength of that relationship.
Psychotherapy can be quite helpful, but as Mayo Clinic points out, it can be hard to break through to someone with an antisocial personality disorder. They may not want to listen, especially at first. While there are no medications specifically designed to target an antisocial disorder, treatment of antisocial personality disorder is possible using drugs to amend symptoms like aggression, depression or anxiety.
It may also be slightly difficult to persuade a teen to get treatment in the first place, says the U.S. National Library of Medicine, unless there’s some sort of official prompt to begin care. Teens who are arrested for illegal behavior, for example, might see the need for care when they’re facing jail time for noncompliance. This may be the one time that an arrest is a good thing in the life of a teen. That official and legal action may finally shift behavior and help that teen to make better, and lasting, life decisions.
Help at Next Generation Village
Teens with antisocial disorders can change, allowing them to grow into productive and happy members of society, but they need intensive help in order to get there. Without that help, these teens may continue on their current path, and that leads only to despair.
At Next Generation Village, teens can get that help. Clients work with the same therapy team, from start to finish, so that therapeutic alliance is built quickly and grows stronger with each passing day. Unique programming allows teens to participate in programs that address their specific traumas, strengths, and preferences. Every single therapy used is evidence-based, meaning that it’s been proven effective by scientific teams. This is the space in which teens can get real help.
Call the number at the top of the page to find out more. Intake specialists are standing by, and they can start the enrollment process right over the phone.
Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.