Obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors are mentally draining and physically impairing. Similar to co-occurring anxiety and depression, OCD and addiction often occur simultaneously, affecting many individuals in America. Understanding how obsessive-compulsive thoughts play a role in addiction may be your first step toward recovery.
What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder, commonly known as OCD, features fears and patterns of unwanted thoughts that eventuate repetitive behaviors. In many OCD cases, obsessions and compulsions cause distress and make standard daily activities more difficult. Most individuals with moderate to severe OCD find it extremely difficult to stop or ignore their obsessions. The cycle revolves around completing tasks to ease stress stemming from thoughts and urges.
OCD rituals may be expressed in various ways. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is commonly based around particular themes, such as fear. OCD leads to ritualistic behavior and vicious cycles. For example, someone may experience an extreme fear of germs, leading them to wash their hands compulsively.
OCD leads many individuals into social isolation because they are ashamed or embarrassed by their obsessions. Shame, isolation, and loneliness often lead to substance use and eventually addiction. At Chapel Hill Detox, we believe everyone struggling with substances deserves recovery.
Symptoms and Effects of OCD
OCD typically begins expressing symptoms in people’s teens or early 20s. It is not uncommon for someone with OCD to experience symptoms in their early teens, though. Healthcare providers diagnose patients with OCD if they experience obsessions and compulsions for over an hour a day. This could impair their ability to function at work or in general social environments.
OCD affects over two million people across the United States. In general, women are affected by OCD more than men. Both men and women experience similar symptoms, though. To best understand obsessive-compulsive disorder, it’s important to recognize how compulsions and obsessions work.
People with OCD have repetitive, unwanted urges, thoughts, or mental images that cause anxiety or distress. These persistent thoughts are called obsessions. If you have these obsessions, you may utilize certain behaviors to rid them. The act of ignoring or trying to stop the obsessions may end in ritualistic behavior. Ritualistic behavior affirms the obsessions and often creates a vicious cycle. Common obsessive themes include:
- Inability or difficulty accepting uncertainty
- Fear of dirt and general contamination
- Requiring objects or random things to be symmetrical or in order
- Aggressive thoughts about harming others, yourself, or losing complete self-control
- Unwarranted and unwanted thoughts involving aggression, sex, or religion
Obsessions often cause people to isolate themselves from friends and family. Moderate to severe obsessions make it difficult for an individual to form new relationships as well. Unfortunately, many people dealing with these troublesome circumstances look to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Therefore, OCD and alcohol complicate the lives of many people suffering from OCD.
Signs of Obsession
Some specific examples of obsessive symptoms and signs include:
- Not wanting to be touched or touch objects out of a fear of contamination
- Consistent doubts that you forgot to turn off the stove or lock the door
- A rise in stress if certain objects are not orderly or facing the “correct” direction
- Unwanted thoughts or visions of violent acts, such as driving your car off the road
- Acting inappropriately in public, shouting obscenities, etc.
- Unwanted sexual imagery
- Avoiding shaking hands with someone to not trigger obsessive symptoms
Compulsions are expressed in the behaviors associated with people who have OCD. Someone experiencing any of the mentioned obsessions related to OCD may find completing specific behaviors grants them temporary relief of their obsessions. Many rituals associated with OCD are not backed by logic. And in many cases, people with OCD know that. People with moderate to severe OCD will feel compelled to execute their rituals even if they know it makes no sense. Common compulsions people with obsessive-compulsive disorder may execute are:
- Constant checking in with loved ones ensuring their well-being or safety
- Uncontrolled and excessive washing or cleaning
- Excessive religious ideologies usually expressed in constant praying
- Constantly monitoring locks, light switches, or appliances
- Excessive hoarding of trash or useless items
Severe obsessions and compulsions can interfere with the entire day of an individual struggling with OCD. More mild cases of OCD tend to, at the very least, disrupt normal daily routine.
Signs of Compulsion
Some specific examples of compulsive symptoms and signs include:
- Repeated, both silent or spoken, phrase, prayer, or word
- Washing hands until skin becomes raw
- Repetitively checking a door, or multiple doors, to make sure it is locked
- Repetitively checking the stove or oven to make sure it is not on
- Counting or patterned counting
- Arranging food or other items to face the same direction
Obsessions and compulsions both tend to vary throughout the life of those with OCD. OCD rituals can start in childhood and taper off as the individual ages. In some cases, OCD may show up in someone’s mid-twenties and worsen as they age. Obsessions and compulsions may also vary as a person ages and experiences different things. Greater stress typically leads to worse symptoms. Another factor that affects the symptoms of OCD is substance use.
OCD and Addiction
People with severe OCD tend to self-isolate. Self-isolation typically occurs out of fear, shame, or similar emotions. Dealing with OCD can be overwhelming, and the symptoms may be debilitating. Unfortunately, many people who lose control of their symptoms look to substances to numb them. Self-medication is a common issue with those who have moderate to severe obsessive-compulsive disorder.
In the short term, it may seem helpful to self-medicate with substances, as it numbs your symptoms. In these cases, instead of proactively coping, the individual develops a new cycle, addiction. OCD and addiction are a dangerous cycle since both disorders complement each other.
Almost half of the people in all treatment centers are diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder. A co-occurring disorder, also known as dual diagnosis, is a condition in which an individual suffers from addiction and an additional mental health disorder. Common co-occurring disorders include addiction and depression, OCD, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.
OCD and addiction are best treated simultaneously. A key aspect of treating co-occurring disorders to understand how each disorder feeds into the other. Upon starting treatment, medical professions assess each client’s mental health, directing them toward a treatment that will best fit their particular situation.
Signs of Co-Occurring Disorders
Common signs of individuals with co-occurring disorders include:
- Compulsive and repetitive behavior leading to substance use
- Inability to stop using substances to cope with mental health symptoms
- Development of tolerance to certain substances
Symptoms of Co-Occurring Disorders
Common symptoms of individuals with co-occurring disorders include:
- Intense mood swings affecting personal relationships, family interactions, and job performance
- Lack of motivation to participate in hobbies or activities if you once enjoyed
- Decrease in time spent with friends or family
- Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness lasting for an extended period
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
At Chapel Hill Detox, we offer dual diagnosis treatment designed for people working through co-occurring disorders. We take into every aspect of our client’s mental health. Our strategy helps us put our clients in the best possible position for a successful and long-term recovery.
If you are suffering from OCD and alcohol or OCD and addiction in general, detox is a great resource to begin the recovery process. A successful detox lays the foundation for recovery. Chapel Hill’s Detox program ensures that our clients begin treatment with a completely sober mind and body. Our detoxification process includes medical guidance and support to ensure the process is as safe and comfortable as possible.
Following detox, industry professions help create your specialized treatment plans, ending in your complete recovery from addiction.
When dealing with dual diagnosis treatment, individual therapy is essential. Individual therapy programs allow patients to have a safe and secure environment to talk one-on-one with their therapist. During a session, a therapist will help you work through emotions, behaviors, and challenges you may be facing while dealing with OCD and addiction. Individual therapy sessions help clients understand addiction and how it plays a role in their life and the lives of the people around them.
Group therapy is another resource we offer at Chapel Hill Detox. Sessions usually consist of a therapist and two or more participants. Group therapy sessions are designed for like-minded people to express themselves in a real-world social environment. It works as an excellent opportunity for our clients to utilize and develop their interpersonal skills and coping methods.
Holistic therapy is an alternative form of treatment that has gained popularity over the years. These treatments help clients connect their mind and body to heal the root issues they are facing. Many treatments focus on managing symptoms and triggers. Holistic medicine aims to find the root causes leading to addiction. At Chapel Hill Detox, we combine our traditional and holistic approaches to allow our patients to benefit from several levels of treatment.
Support is a valuable asset in any recovery program. Family therapy helps our clients tend to family relationships. Substance use often leads to damaged family bonds or relationships. Healing those bonds and having a stout support system is crucial in recovery. Family therapy sessions do not only benefit the individual in treatment. Each family member has an opportunity to express their emotions and concerns in a therapeutic manner.
Get Help Today at Chapel Hill Detox
Co-occurring disorders are challenging to deal with alone. If you are struggling with OCD and addiction, the time to reach out for help is now. Fortunately, both OCD and addiction are treatable. We believe everyone deserves the right to treatment and our goal is to help each of our clients to the absolute best of our ability. If you are seeking addiction treatment in Florida, please reach out today.