OCD Substance Abuse

OCD & Substance Abuse

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

A type of anxiety disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as a “common, chronic and long-lasting disorder” characterized by uncontrollable recurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) which the individual feels compelled to repeat. According to a 2017 Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders report published by the World Health Organization, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is among the world’s top ten disabling illnesses, and anxiety disorders are the sixth largest global contributor to non-fatal health loss. In The Journal of Anxiety Disorders, data from a study reveals that approximately 70% of participants with substance abuse addiction reported having OCD prior to developing comorbid substance use disorders. The cause of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder remains unknown.

Common Recurring, Intrusive Thoughts Associated with OCD

We all get intrusive thoughts that oftentimes don’t make sense, but for those with OCD, these intrusive thoughts can produce significant emotional distress that results in compulsive behaviors. When an unwanted thought intrudes the mind of someone with OCD, the person fixates his or her attention on that subject and “gives life” to the thought by mentally reviewing it (to see if something is wrong with oneself) and then seeking reassurance or avoiding the thought altogether. Avoidance usually amplifies the intrusive mental reoccurrence. Common obsessive thought patterns are as follows:

• Obsession with losing control (fear of harming self or others; fear of disturbing horrible images in one’s mind)
• Obsession with harm (fear of being responsible for possible tragedies, such as causing a fire if one uses a candle to light up a dark room)
• Obsession with fear of germs, environmental pollutants, and contamination
• Obsession with taboo thoughts about sex, religion or others
• Obsession with perfection – preoccupation with symmetry (evenness or exactness), knowledge (“need” to know), forgetting (fear of losing important information if one throws something out), organization (for fear of losing things), etc.

Common Compulsive Behaviors in OCD

In response to recurring obsessions, an individual with OCD will excessively repeat short-term anxiety relieving behaviors to find reassurance or escape. Common compulsive behaviors include the following:

• Repeatedly washing one’s hands to avoid contamination
• Excessive showering and grooming routines
• Constantly checking for mistakes (double or triple checking for errors)
• Obsessive organization and cleanliness in the home or office
• Taking extra precautions to prevent harm to self or others
• Addictive behaviors (drug and alcohol abuse, gambling, promiscuity, eating disorders)

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Options for OCD

To drown out the loud invasive thoughts in one’s mind, it’s not unusual at all for one to seek solace in drugs and alcohol. However, as data from multiple research sources suggests, turning to substance use as a short-term solution usually results in destruction that lasts a lifetime. Dual diagnosis treatment options offer real solutions for individuals who want to be free from substance abuse addiction and co-occurring disorders such as OCD. People who engage in dual diagnosis treatment receive holistic and behavioral therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) as part of their substance abuse treatment plan. New Method Wellness, a premier dual diagnosis addiction treatment center in San Juan Capistrano, CA, has a unique 3:1 staff-to-client ratio, in that each client is paired with two therapists to ensure that everyone receives top-rated addiction treatment that yields lifelong results.

Learn more about our dual diagnosis treatment programs by calling 866.951.1824 today!



+1 (866) 951-1824