Treatment for Addiction and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
When you think about obsessive-compulsive disorder, you may envision soapy hands planted under a water faucet, twisting and turning until they’re bleeding. Fingers may be cleaned in a particular order and any interruption of the ritual might compel the sufferer to start all over again. This can go on for hours at a time.
Compulsive hand-washing is just one example of the behaviors that keep people with obsessive-compulsive disorder from living full lives. Other examples include counting, checking on things, mental rituals and hoarding.
Most of us have occasional unwanted “intrusive thoughts,” but they come and go and we get on with our lives. For example, you might become “obsessed” with thoughts about an upcoming test or wondering whether you forgot to turn off the gas, but you can still make it to meet your friends after work or get to school on time in the morning. With OCD, the thoughts and rituals can become so paralyzing that they get in the way of daily life.
What Is OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that research tells us happens due to hyperactivity in certain parts of the brain. If you have OCD, you have frequent uncontrollable thoughts called obsessions. To try to manage those thoughts, you feel an overpowering need to engage in repetitive and ritualistic behaviors called compulsions.
Research also indicates that obsessive-compulsive disorder runs in families and that if you have OCD, your children are at higher risk for developing the disorder, too. Stressful and traumatic life events such as abuse, a serious illness, the death of a loved one or problems in school or at work are also known to increase the risk of obsessive-compulsions. Although OCD can begin in childhood, it is typically first seen in adolescence and early adulthood.
Addictions and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
More than 2% of the population in the United States (approximately one out of 40 people) will be diagnosed with OCD during their lifetimes, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Many of those who seek treatment for OCD have also developed an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Research has shown that about half of the people who suffer from a mental illness also abuse substances. In the case of OCD, a report in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders found that 70% of people with substance use disorders reported suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder for at least a year before developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Signs You May Have OCD
Here are a few of the most common patterns of behavior seen in those suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder:
- Repeated hand-washing or showering
- Repeatedly checking things like door locks or stoves
- Overzealous cleaning
- Constant counting while performing everyday tasks
- Constantly arranging things in a symmetrical way
- Eating foods in a particular order
- Unrelenting fear of being a victim of violence
- Repeating specific words, phrases or prayers
- Intrusive sexual thoughts, such as fears of being attracted to children or doubts about one’s sexual identity
- Collecting or hoarding items that have no real value
The consequences of OCD include problems in relationships and at work. The disorder can become so all-consuming that individuals begin to isolate themselves to avoid being “found out,” leaving them vulnerable to depression. When people turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping strategy, they may feel better for a while, but substance abuse only serves to worsen their OCD symptoms. This, in turn, can lead to more substance use and a dangerous cycle ensues. Therapy can help break this cycle.
When a person suffers from multiple disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance abuse, doctors say they have a “dual diagnosis” or “co-occurring disorders.” For a successful recovery, both disorders must be treated in-depth and at the same time. Unfortunately, many drug rehab facilities are not equipped to care for people with a dual diagnosis.
Expert Treatment for OCD and Substance Abuse at Promises
Promises Treatment Centers specializes in dual-diagnosis treatment. We take the latest scientific understandings and develop a treatment plan that will address the separate problems, as well as the interplay between them. Your treatment team will include a primary therapist, family therapist, psychiatrist and medical doctor.
If you have persistent, unwanted and unpleasant thoughts that limit the way you live your life, substance use may seem like a good short-term fix, but it comes with harrowing, long-term consequences. Promises Treatment Centers understands the interconnection behind substance abuse and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Don’t suffer in silence. We can help.