Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Addiction

Studies show one in fifty Americans suffers from OCD. Many of these people also struggle with drug and alcohol addiction.

Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is one of the most common mental illnesses in America. It is a disorder involving recurrent, unwanted thoughts and/or actions. Obsessive compulsive thoughts and actions take up time and energy. A person suffering from OCD may not be able to maintain a healthy, daily routine while trying to manage these distractions.

OCD causes anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts when left untreated.

Like many anxiety disorders and depression, alcohol and drug addiction often co-occur with OCD. This pairing can cause serious mental and physical damage. In these dual diagnosis situations of drug addiction and OCD, it’s crucial to get the right treatment for both disorders.

Get in touch with us to help overcome addiction and OCD.

Co-occurring OCD and Addiction

Coping with OCD obsessions can be exhausting. The mental and emotional pain OCD inflicts can lead sufferers to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

Many movies and television shows portray those with OCD as nervous and hyper-organized but overall healthy people. However, OCD is actually a serious mental illness disrupting people’s home, work and family lives.

Social Isolation, OCD and Addiction

Those suffering from OCD often feel isolated by their unwanted thoughts and urges. Those suffering from OCD understand that their obsessions and compulsions don’t make logical sense. OCD sufferers (and addicts) often feel shame for thinking and acting the way they do.

Like drug addiction, obsessive compulsive disorder can leave people feeling isolated from the outside world. Someone suffering from OCD might avoid important people and social settings to keep their obsessions and compulsions private. This shame, loneliness and physical isolation easily leads to substance abuse.

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Symptoms and Effects of OCD

Obsessive compulsive disorder is marked by having obsessions and/or compulsions. Those self-medicating OCD with drugs or alcohol might be trying to manage these symptoms.

OCD Obsessions

Obsessions are frequent and forceful images, urges, or thoughts that cause the sufferer great distress or anxiety. The individual tries to ignore these obsessions or get rid of them with another thought or action. This is called performing a compulsion.

Common OCD obsessions include:

  • Fear of germs, viruses, bacteria or “getting sick”
  • Obsessions over “good” or “bad” numbers
  • Intrusive thoughts of harm toward others or self-harm
  • Obsessions with religious topics or “blasphemous” thoughts
  • Intrusive images of sexual acts
  • Fear of losing a loved one to injury or illness

OCD Compulsions

Compulsions are repeated behaviors or mental rituals those with OCD believe will deflect unwanted thoughts or urges. These rituals have no real connection to the OCD obsessions they’re trying to get rid themselves of. Those with OCD feel compelled to perform these rituals regardless of the logic in doing so.

Common OCD compulsions include:

  • Excessive washing and cleaning
  • Excessively “double-checking” things like light switches, appliances, and locks
  • Counting, repeating words, or tapping to soothe anxiety
  • Excessive praying out of religious fear
  • Repeatedly “checking in” on loved ones’ safety
  • Hoarding useless items or trash

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), both obsessions and compulsions are time-consuming, taking up more than an hour a day. They significantly disrupt sufferers’ daily routines.

Treating OCD and Addiction

The key to effectively beating co-occurring addiction and OCD is treating the disorders at the same time.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often an effective treatment for drug addiction and OCD. CBT teaches addicted people with OCD to cope with unwanted thoughts and feelings that can lead to drug abuse. Antidepressant medications can also treat OCD symptoms.

Common medications for treating OCD symptoms are:

  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox CR)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Clomipramine (Anafranil)

It’s important to remember that addiction is a chronic illness. OCD’s symptoms can be treated with medication, but overcoming addiction requires constant attention to avoid relapse.

An inpatient or outpatient rehab can provide medically-assisted detox, mental health counseling for OCD symptoms and life coaching to stay sober.

Find Health and Balance Again

Obsessive compulsive disorder and addiction can leave you feeling helpless and alone. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Medical professionals are there to help you overcome OCD and addiction.

Contact us now to get your life on track.