Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health illness causing undesired repetitive thoughts or urges to do something over and over again. For example, a person with OCD may walk into a room and switch on a light but then switch it off to turn it back on again. They may switch the light on and off four or five times before stopping to complete their original task. There are levels of OCD that involve sensations or urges, lingering thoughts, and emotional instability. Due to the mental distraught that OCD may cause, making it difficult for someone to enjoy the day, people with OCD turn to drugs and alcohol as a means to cope. So, is there a link between OCD and addiction?
Obsession vs. Addiction
Obsessive behavior can lead to a compulsive addiction. But what exactly does this mean? When a person is obsessing, then a ritualistic practice is established in their everyday life. Typically, obsessive actions stem from fear. A person may check their doors several times before concluding that they are safe, or they resent germs and vigorously wash their hands after touching certain objects or someone’s hands.
Additionally, repetitive thoughts may easily disrupt someone from functioning properly throughout their day. OCD thoughts may include images of aggressive sexual positions, thoughts of harming yourself or others, or religious-based compulsive thoughts. Depending on the level of disturbance, a person with OCD may turn to cope through the use of drugs.
Addiction also is defined as a mental health disorder or brain disease. When tolerance is built, and a person can no longer feel satisfied without using, then they are in the midst of substance abuse. Combining the two can intensify symptoms, cravings, and the desire to avoid certain thoughts or behaviors.
Alcohol and OCD
Addiction seen in compulsive behavior tends to stem from alcohol abuse. Those attempting to manage obsessive-compulsive disorder will often use alcohol, a depressant drug that affects the central nervous system. Self-medicating is typical but dangerous since addiction can form and cause adverse side effects. OCD and addiction tend to be triggered by numerous factors such as genetics and a person’s constant environment. Also, traumatic happenings can inflict these mental disorders, such as childhood trauma.
Since alcohol heightens serotonin production, causing the feel-good chemical in the brain to spike, people will often form a physical dependency on the substance. However, high levels of serotonin cause a chemical imbalance in the brain and body which worsens OCD symptoms. People may abuse alcohol to distract themselves or attempt to shut off their thoughts or compulsions, but they also risk heightening the effects.
Chronic drinking interrupts the communication pathways in the brain, which signal messages throughout the body. Excessive drinking may negatively impact a person’s overall well-being, and depending on the various forms of OCD, symptoms and side effects differ. Common symptoms linked to OCD and addiction include:
- Constant doubting
- Washing and cleaning
- Fearing contamination
- Demanding reassurance
- Disturbing sexual images
- Counting in certain patterns
- Repeating a prayer or phrase
- Thoughts about doing something out of character in public
- Aggressive thoughts about losing control and harming yourself or others
Alcohol addiction treatment is highly recommended to those who misuse the substance to avoid OCD thoughts and behaviors. Other substances abused may include prescription pills or illicit drugs like heroin. Finding a wellness center that offers dual-diagnosis treatment is often beneficial to those with OCD and addiction.
Compulsive Behavior and Addiction Treatment at Pines Recovery Life Detox
Severe OCD may certainly lead to substance abuse which is why the medical staff at Pines Recovery Life Detox is prepared to safely guide patients through withdrawal symptoms. We work hard to make sure our patients feel comfortable during the treatment process and during therapeutic methods used in cognitive behavioral therapy and other unique programs. Don’t wait to learn the skills to manage emotions and better control OCD, and prevent relapse.