Teen Conduct Disorder and Adult Antisocial Personality Disorder

It is known in the mental health field that a teen or young adult who exhibits the traits of Conduct Disorder or Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and who goes untreated, will later possess the traits of Antisocial Personality Disorder. These childhood and adolescent illnesses can be the precursor for Antisocial Personality Disorder. Approximately, 3% of the population, or about 8,100,000 individuals in the United States have Antisocial Personality Disorder. Even more people (especially those with addiction) have antisocial personality traits and exhibit antisocial behavior.

Teen Conduct Disorder

Youth that are at-risk, meaning those who have had distressing childhoods. Because of the virtue of their circumstances, they are more at risk to fail academically, occupationally, and socially. They likely had a poor or little attachment to a primary caregiver, tend to be vulnerable to harm against self and others, drug use, early sexual activity, suicide attempts, and mental illness. Two types of mental illness prevalent among at risk youth are teen Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

For instance, John’s childhood and adolescence has been incredibly difficult. He is now 23 years old and was recently transferred from prison to a psychiatric unit because of a suicide attempt. He has attempted suicide in the past and has been involved with the police or the law since he was 15.

John’s story begins with a very difficult childhood. His father was an alcoholic and a male prostitute; his mother left the family when John was five years old. He began to fight with other children in elementary school, and was excessively violent with this younger brother. In his childhood, he was known to inflict harm on animals. From about 4th grade to 8th grade, John spent time in a group home and stayed in a variety of different foster homes. However, many couples had a difficult time raising him. So he wasn’t able to stay in one home for too long.


Occasionally, he would stay with this grandmother, but she was already taking care of many other grandchildren. John began using drugs at age 9.

When he was 12, John was in a gang and started to sell drugs. He gets into violent fights, and began stealing as a way means to show his stature in the gang. He also began having sex and became a father at 14 years old. Finally, at the age of 15, he was arrested for his drug involvement with charges of theft, possession of illegal drugs, and assault. John hardly attended school. He dropped out completely after his arrest. Although the arrest went on his criminal record, he wasn’t required to spend anytime in juvenile prison because of his age. Instead, most of his charges were suspended.

Not having a place to live and no longer attending school, John started living on the street with other members of the gang. Finally, last year, John was sentenced to prison because of puling out a gun and shooting someone after a physical fight got increasingly violent. All of his suicide attempts have taken place while in prison.

Other Mental Disorders

John’s personality and mood seems to swing easily from one pole to the other. He can be incredibly charismatic and charming. Yet, when angered, he is cold, enraged, and destructive. It’s common that adolescents with Conduct Disorder also have other mental illnesses such as Bipolar Disorder, teen post traumatic stress disorder, depression, and ADHD. Teens with Conduct Disorder tend to display aggression to people and animals, destruction of property, deceitfulness, lying, or stealing, and serious violations of rules

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, when treated early with a comprehensive treatment plan, conduct disorder can be managed. And a teen can eventually return to normal functioning. However, if not treated through therapeutic means, such as psychotropic medication and therapy, conduct disorder can become more and more complex. Which leads to antisocial behavior and Antisocial Personality Disorder. Teens with untreated conduct disorder will have a very difficult time adapting to the demands of adulthood. And will often have trouble holding a job, staying in relationships, and avoiding the law.

It is clear that early treatment of Conduct Disorder is essential for the well being of an at-risk adolescent.



“Conduct Disorder.” American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2014.