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Treatment for OCD and Addiction

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What Is Addiction?

Addiction is considered to be a chronic dysfunction of an individual’s brain system that involves memory, motivation, and reward. It is about the way a person’s body craves a behavior or substance, especially if it causes an obsessive or compulsive pursuit of lack of concern for consequences and “reward”. When an individual experiences addiction, the following will occur:

  • The person will be unable to stay away from the substance or even stop the addictive behavior.
  • An increased desire might occur for behavior or substance.
  • Dismissal might occur regarding how behavior might be causing problems.
  • A displayed lack of self-control.
  • An emotional response might be lacking.

As time continues, addiction can seriously interfere with a person’s daily life. Individuals experiencing addiction are also susceptible to cycles of remission and relapse. This means the cycle that is between mild and intense use.

Despite the above-mentioned cycles, addictions will generally worsen gradually. The cycles can lead to serious consequences such as bankruptcy and permanent health complications. For this reason, it’s extremely important for any individual struggling with addiction to reach out for help.

What Is OCD?

ocd and addiction

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, also known as OCD, is considered a chronic, long-lasting, and common disorder in which individual experiences reoccurring thoughts (obsession) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that are uncontrollable and that they have the urge to repeat over and over again.

The disorder is an anxiety disorder where the person undergoes unreasonable anxiety and fears due to repeated thoughts. OCD patients tend to participate in the following compulsive and repetitive activities such as:

  • Arranging things in a very specific way, such as items on your dresser.
  • Bathing, cleaning, or washing hands over and over.
  • Checking certain things repeatedly, such as a lock or the stove.
  • Collecting or hoarding things that have no personal or financial value.
  • Constantly checking that you haven’t done someone harm.
  • Counting repeatedly or saying certain words or prayers while doing other tasks.
  • Eating food in a specific order.
  • Refusing to shake hands or touch objects that other people touch a lot, like doorknobs.
  • Performing a task a specific number of times, such as always flipping a light switch seven times.

Even though performing these rituals can offer the patient temporary relief, the anxiety often returns shortly after the completion. OCD is considered to be an incredibly disruptive disease that can take over an individual’s life and prevent them from participating in numerous life’s enjoyable events.

OCD and Obsessive Thoughts

ocd and addiction

It’s important to note that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is one of the most common health conditions in America. The recurrent thoughts and actions are often unwanted. When a person has OCD, the actions and thoughts take up their time and energy. These thoughts can include obsessions about the following:

  • Fear of germs or dirt, causing harm to someone else, or making a mistake.
  • Fear of being embarrassed in public.
  • Feelings of doubt or disgust.
  • Need for order, neatness, symmetry, or perfection.
  • Need for constant reassurance.
  • Sexual thoughts that society may consider unacceptable.

If a person is struggling with OCD, they might not be able to maintain a daily routine that’s healthy while also trying to manage their distractions. OCD has the power to cause depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts when it’s left untreated. Similar to various other depression and anxiety disorders, drug and alcohol addiction occurs with OCD often.

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How Do the Two Disorders Co-Occur?

When OCD and addiction co-occur, serious physical and mental damage can arrive. In these dual diagnoses with OCD and substance abuse, it’s imperative to get the right type of treatment. The emotional and mental pain that OCD inflicts on individuals can lead them to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

As the U.S. National Library of Medicine stated, “Substance use disorders affect more than one-quarter of those who seek treatment for OCD.” There are several television shows and movies that have portrayed how individuals with OCD are considered to be hyper-organized and nervous, but all around healthy people.

Though the condition is often downplayed, it’s a serious mental illness that can disrupt a person’s work, family life, and home. This is especially true when someone is dealing is OCD and addiction at the same time.

How OCD and Substance Abuse Occurs

The act of attempting to cope with OCD obsessions can be quite exhausting. It’s important to be aware that drugs can only provide a short amount of relief. In turn, this will lead to repeated abuse whenever unwanted urges or thoughts arise.

When there is enough abuse and time, an alcohol or drug addiction can certainly form. There is also social isolation that occurs that can lead to OCD and substance abuse. The individuals who struggle with OCD often are aware and understand that their compulsions and obsessions don’t make any sense.

When an individual is struggling with OCD, they often feel shame for acting and thinking the way that they do. Similar to drug addiction, the obsessive-compulsive disorder can leave individuals feeling completely isolated from the outside world.

Someone struggling with OCD might avoid essential social settings and people in an attempt to keep compulsions and obsessions private. Physical isolation, loneliness, and shame can easily lead to a person’s substance abuse.

The Effects and Symptoms of OCD

Often, OCD emerges in an individual’s late teens and even early twenties, but it can also start in the early teens. Because numerous teens start experimenting with alcohol and drugs during the same window, the possibilities for co-occurring substance abuse and OCD can grow.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, teenagers with OCD might be especially vulnerable to engaging in alcohol or drug abuse. Due to OCD being marked by compulsions or obsessions, individuals attempt to self-medicate with OCD with alcohol or drugs. It’s a hopeful attempt to manage the symptoms.

OCD Obsessions and Addiction

Obsessions are considered to be forceful and frequent urges, thoughts, or images that can cause the individual a great deal of anxiety or distress. Usually, the person attempts to ignore the obsessions or even get rid of them with another action or thought. This is called performing a “compulsion”.

When there is distress from the OCD obsessions, it causes the person undergoing OCD to withdraw from family and friends. The OCD obsessions can also make it more difficult for individuals to form new relationships. Both OCD and addiction can lead to depression and then self-medicating with alcohol or drugs.

OCD and Addiction Treatment Awaits at Orlando Treatment Solutions

The key to effectively beating co-occurring OCD and substance abuse addiction is to treat both diagnoses at the same time. Our most effective treatment method for both is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

If you or someone close to you is struggling with OCD and addiction, help is available at Orlando Treatment Solutions. Contact us today to embrace and conquer the journey to recovery.


Years of experience

Our leadership team has extensive experience in dual-diagnosis treatment and is ready to help those who are struggling with substance use and mental health.



Our staff consists of many licensed addiction and mental health treatment facilitators and other staff who are ready to share their experience and their success.


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Orlando Treatment Solutions has helped over 2,000 people who have struggled with substance use (alcohol and drug addiction) and mental health find freedom.

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Reaching out to Orlando Treatment Solutions may be the most important call of your recovery process. A caring professional is waiting for your call to be your guide to addiction-free living.

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