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Connection Between Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Addiction

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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities Near Me

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic disorder that entails uncontrollable and repetitive behaviors and thoughts (compulsions and obsessions) that compel an individual to act on them.1

OCD and substance abuse (SUDs) are often correlated as individuals may turn to alcohol and drugs as a mechanism to cope with OCD. If you, your loved one, or a person close to you has co-occurring OCD and substance abuse, considering finding help or encouraging them to seek addiction treatment in a reliable facility is vital to your or their wellbeing.2

What Is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse disorder or SUD is a mental disorder that influences a person’s behavior, affecting their ability to resist using substances such as alcohol, illegal drugs, or medications. The severity of the symptoms can vary, and those with severe forms of SUD often struggle with addiction.3

Around 50% of those struggling with SUD might develop a co-occurring mental disorder. Some of the most common conditions include:3

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • ADHD
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

What Is OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)?

Symptoms of OCD can include obsessions, compulsions, or sometimes both. Experiencing these symptoms can affect individuals’ quality of life and interfere with their performance at work and school or influence their personal relationships.1

Obsessions manifest as repeated mental images, thoughts or urges that trigger anxiety. Common signs of obsessions include:1

  • Mysophobia (fear of contamination or germs).
  • Aggressive thoughts toward self or others.
  • Unwelcome forbidden thoughts revolving around sex, religion, or inflicting harm.

On the other hand, compulsions are behaviors a person with OCD constantly repeats in response to their obsessive thoughts. You may notice the following symptoms:1

  • Obsessive cleaning or hygiene
  • Arranging items in a particular, precise order
  • Repeatedly checking whether the doors are locked or the stove is off
  • Counting compulsively

OCD is not to be confused with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder or OCPD. While both might feature similar behaviors and thought patterns, only people with OCD experience actual obsessions and compulsions. Furthermore, a person’s behaviors with OCPD do not fluctuate as OCPD is a personality disorder. In contrast, for people with OCD, obsessions and compulsions tend to fluctuate based on the current levels of fear and anxiety.4

Important Statistics on OCD and Drug Abuse

While reports of obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance abuse comorbidity have always been high, determining the exact numbers depends on the sampling methods. In general, 27% of patients seeking treatment for OCD met lifetime criteria for substance abuse disorder. Symptoms of SUD often conceal the symptoms of OCD, and only 50% of people with substance abuse disorder seek treatment for OCD.5

Encouraging people to seek treatment for OCD might help struggling individuals reduce or quit their substance abuse habits. Based on clinical experience, people with SUD might develop the disorder as they try to cope with the symptoms of OCD.5

Additionally, early onset of OCD may lead to an increased risk of alcohol abuse. People who suffer from upsetting psychological symptoms in their formative years might be more susceptible to the numbing effects of alcohol, which could be why obsessive-compulsive disorder and alcoholism in adolescents are closely related.5

Connection Between Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Drug Abuse

To cope with intrusive thoughts, people dealing with OCD often turn to illegal substances to inhibit the symptoms. However, since drugs lower their inhibitions, the consequences of this self-medication are often dire.3

The altered brain chemistry of people struggling with OCD may enhance the gratifying effects of illegal drugs, making them more inclined to abuse them frequently.3

However, since individuals abusing drugs often perceive reality differently, the fears and anxieties related to OCD might become more intense and tangible. Ultimately, abusing drugs makes people more susceptible to their compulsions.3

Connection Between Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Alcohol Abuse

Since alcohol lowers inhibitions, people struggling with OCD symptoms often turn to alcohol for relief. Since it numbs the mind, it makes it easier for them to ignore the compulsive thoughts and behaviors they struggle with while sober.6

However, people with OCD may experience even more intense symptoms the day after alcohol consumption. This can lead to repeated alcohol abuse to numb the intense feelings and, in turn, greater dependence severity.6

Continued alcohol abuse may lead to dependency, especially if the person doesn’t seek treatment for OCD and alcohol abuse. Prolonged alcohol abuse may also lead to depression, suicidal behavior, and psychiatric hospitalization.6

Rehab Treatment for OCD With Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorder

Patients with co-occurring OCD and substance abuse disorder may benefit from receiving professional care with a program tailored to help their recovery. Dual diagnosis treatment programs help patients by treating both issues at the same time. Patients can expect to receive medical and therapeutic care for both issues simultaneously.7

This approach makes sure that both symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance abuse are treated concurrently, removing the need to rely on drugs or alcohol to manage mental health disorders such as OCD or other conditions like bipolar disorder. This type of care is the best option for someone struggling with both disorders and can provide additional support in the form of housing, socialization, and employment support.7

Residential Treatment for OCD and Substance Use Disorder

Residential treatment is a 24/7 care program tailored to individuals struggling with addiction, mental health issues, or co-occurring disorders. This type of treatment offers a variety of services aimed at helping patients cope with their symptoms and giving them adequate aftercare upon program completion.8

Patients in residential treatment can expect a full scope of services, including detox, counseling, individual or group therapy, aftercare, and learning about other support mechanisms aimed at improving their quality of life.8

Patients attending integrated residential treatment may greatly benefit from the experience, exhibiting vast improvements in their symptoms and high levels of engagement.9

Substance Abuse and OCD Inpatient Treatment Centers

Inpatient rehab is a type of hospital-like treatment where patients are admitted to a rehabilitation center full-time to receive care for their co-occurring disorders.10 

Once they enter a treatment facility, they can expect a 24/7 support and care program. Residents may share a room or be assigned one for themselves. On average, patients spend around 30 days in the facility, although more time may be needed based on the severity of their condition. In fact, treatment could last from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the type of program.11

What’s the Best Treatment for OCD and Substance Abuse?

Co-occurring disorders are typically complex and present many challenges that have to be addressed to develop an effective treatment method. Therefore, each patient needs to be assessed individually.7

However, proper motivation, an empathic approach, and relapse prevention might increase the patients’ chances of making a long-term recovery. Therefore, patients treated for OCD and substance abuse in a residential setting exhibit the highest recovery chances. Residential or inpatient treatment centers offer highly coordinated, engaging, and continuing care which is directly linked with high recovery rates.7

Since people with OCD and substance abuse disorder tend to experience a wide range of medical and personal issues, they require a comprehensive treatment plan. In addition to treating the co-occurring obsessive-compulsive disorder and alcoholism or drug abuse, these patients often need additional help and guidance. Improving their life skills, nutrition habits, parenting, language, and other aspects can help them build a strong foundation for their lives post-recovery.7

Finally, as both obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance abuse are long-term conditions, providing continual care after completing inpatient rehabilitation is vital to their lasting recovery.7

How to Find the Best OCD Treatment Centers Near Me?

With many treatment centers to choose from, finding the best treatment center near you comes down to choosing the facility that best meets your or your loved one’s needs, which could be near your or require some travel. Some treatment centers may be local, while others might require you to travel to a different state.

The best OCD treatment centers will help deal with both addiction and mental disorders, using an individual program that helps patients feel secure and comfortable.7 These centers may even offer gender-specific treatment for women who require a more comfortable environment. The length of the program may vary, ranging from 90-day programs for more complex cases to average 30-day programs, which may start with 3- to 5-day substance abuse detox.

If you’re looking for a reliable treatment center in California, treatment providers at American Addiction Centers are open to discussing the best options for you or your loved one. You will find various treatment programs based on age in a supportive and therapeutic setting. If you cannot find an adequate program locally, consider out-of-state treatment is also an option as receiving the right care is vital for increased recovery chances.9

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The editorial staff of Projectknow.com is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands of pages for accuracy and relevance. Our reviewers consistently monitor the latest research from SAMHSA, NIDA, and other reputable sources to provide our readers the most accurate content on the web.
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