What is the Relationship Between OCD and Addiction?

What is the Relationship Between OCD and Addiction

If you or someone you love is struggling with OCD and addiction, there are ways to get help. OCD is a complicated mental health disorder that can manifest differently for different people. Still, people who don’t get treatment often struggle with OCD and addiction simultaneously. 

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is a chronic, frequent, and often disabling disorder. As the name implies, this disorder can manifest in obsessions (usually obsessive and uncontrollable thoughts) and compulsions (usually physical behaviors). 

Obsessions usually include:

  • Fear of germs, such that you can’t leave your home or be in public, and if you are, you compulsively wash everything
  • Unwanted, intrusive thoughts about violence or taboo subjects
  • Aggression toward yourself or others
  • The need for things to be in perfect order

Compulsions usually include:

  • Excessively washing your hands or cleaning your home
  • Always having to put things in the same order, in the same way (like wrapping your shoes separately, in plastic bags, then stacking those plastic bags in a row on the floor of your room)
  • Compulsively counting (maybe even compulsively turning a light switch on or off the same number of times, each time you touch it)
  • Repeatedly checking things, like checking that windows are secured or locked doors

Today we have a much better understanding of how it works neurologically and what treatments can be used to improve the symptoms.

Moreover, we better understand the relationship between OCD and addiction. With OCD addictive personality or compulsive behavior and addiction, treatment is available to target both OCD and drug abuse concurrently.

What are the Effects of OCD on Life?

OCD can have a severe impact on everyday life. Roughly 2% of the population struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and of that 2%, 50% have severe OCD.

OCD can look different for everyone.

For example:

Susan has severe OCD and is bombarded with obsessive thoughts about germs. When Susan is stressed because of personal or professional problems, her symptoms get worse. Sometimes Susan is afraid to leave her house because she is obsessed with the risk of strangers coughing near her and making her sick. When she finally goes to the store, she compulsively sanitizes her hands after touching every item. Each time she puts an item in her basket or takes an item from the basket and puts it on the conveyor belt, or brings it to her car, or brings it from her car to her house, she has to sanitize or wash her hands. She cannot touch other people, and if they touch her, her obsessive thoughts about germs take over, and she has a breakdown. Susan has never had a successful relationship or experienced intimacy without having a panic attack and subsequent breakdown.

Jacob has OCD. Everything in his home has to be neatly stacked. In his bedroom, each pair of shoes is wrapped in a tied plastic grocery bag. The shoes are aligned perfectly next to one another in the exact same order every day. When Jacob goes out, he removes the shoes from the plastic bag, but when he returns, he cleans them and places them back in the bag in the exact same order. When Jacob goes to a casual party, he stacks his set of coins and cards during a poker game so that everything is neatly in order. When someone notices him constantly stocking and restocking, they laugh and knock over his tower of coins. This causes Jacob to have a panic attack, and he leaves.

Travis has OCD and anxiety. Every night Travis has to compulsively check that all the windows and doors in his house are locked. He has to do this five times every night for every window and every door. He gets up every few hours to repeat this process throughout the night, ensuring that the house remains secure.

In these different examples, severe cases might prevent people from socializing or maintaining successful relationships. People with less severe cases still have effects on their everyday life. And those who have families cause symptoms or problems for their families.

What is the Relationship Between OCD and Addiction?

Compulsive behavior and addiction often exist together. OCD and alcohol abuse or OCD and drug abuse happen when individuals don’t understand their symptoms and don’t have a diagnosis for their condition. Their obsessions and compulsions don’t make sense, they are confusing and interfere with daily life, and sometimes people are ashamed of their behavior or thoughts. So, feeling isolated and lonely, people turn to drugs or alcohol to help manage the symptoms, stop their compulsions or quiet their obsessive thoughts. 

Unfortunately, the more individuals with OCD self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, the worse the symptoms become. Moreover, the more a substance is abused, the worse the addiction becomes. 

At some point, people might develop an OCD addictive personality where both the drug and alcohol abuse and the mental health condition feed off one another, worsening the symptoms associated with each condition.

How to Find Dual Diagnosis Treatment for OCD and Addiction Near New Jersey

To get help for compulsive behavior and addiction, you must find a mental health rehab near New Jersey. Only a mental health treatment facility can get the resources needed to overcome these conditions.

Traditional treatment centers would focus only on treating the addiction and not on the underlying mental health condition. But failure to treat OCD simultaneously means a high risk of relapse for OCD and alcohol abuse or OCD and drug abuse.

You can get better psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other holistic treatment to help you find any underlying causes of your OCD, to give you ways that you can control your obsessions or compulsions, and at the same time, help you overcome your addiction.

At Water Gap Wellness Center, we specialize in mental health rehab, treating the whole person, not just the disease. Our team of specialists can treat OCD by helping you develop coping skills and daily life skills. We can teach you how to take care of yourself and identify triggers that make your OCD symptoms worse. If necessary, we can help you with therapy and medication management, all while helping you through the process of alcohol and drug detox and recovery.

Let Water Gap Wellness Center help you get treatment for OCD and Addiction today. Contact us to learn more about our mental health outpatient programs near New Jersey.

About WGWC

Water Gap Wellness Center offers expert and compassionate treatment for mental health and substance abuse at our Pennsylvania facility, just outside New Jersey, a short drive from New York. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you today. 

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