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OCD and Addiction

OCD and Addiction

Authored by Pin Ng PhD

Reviewed by Michael Por, MD

OCD and Addiction

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an all-consuming feeling that overtakes a person’s life.1https://academic.oup.com/ijnp/article/21/1/59/4565843 It affects a person’s day and completely interferes with the life they have – or want to have. OCD affects an individual’s daily routines and responsibilities. Films and television have depicted persons suffering from OCD with it often being portrayed as humorous. Television characters such as Adrian Monk (Monk) or Monica Geller (Friends) have OCD in comical ways in which they must do activities multiple times. These conditions make it appear that OCD is a condition that shouldn’t be taken seriously. The truth is, OCD controls a person’s life and traps them in what feels like a prison of compulsion.2https://annals-general-psychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1744-859X-8-13

The time-consuming routines OCD sufferers go through each day lead to issues with employment, school, and home life. OCD can lead individuals to be unemployed, socially isolated, and to fail academically.3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3782190/ OCD can lead to persons finding ways to self-medicate to overcome their issues and to feel more “normal”.

How does OCD and Addiction combine?

OCD sufferers may feel anxiety, depression, and tension from within. In a journey to find help, sufferers may turn to drugs and alcohol. Although drugs and alcohol seem to help initially, they only cause the symptoms to worsen.

Research has found a large portion of OCD sufferers also meet the criteria for individuals living with substance misuse disorder.4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2705178/ Many of the individuals that deal with OCD and addiction started using drugs and alcohol to combat their OCD symptoms. Research also found that people that experienced OCD in adolescence or as teenagers developed worse substance misuse issues later in life. These individuals experienced isolation and childhood emotional neglect early on in life creating psychological distress and crippling anxiety.

What causes addiction in OCD sufferers?

Social isolation is a major factor in the creation of addiction in individuals with OCD. The compulsion to do routines over and over again leads many people to consider a sufferer to be different and strange. It leads the sufferer to be isolated from friends, families and acquaintances. OCD can leave a person housebound due to the compulsions that exist in them.

Isolation can lead to depression which in turn leads to persons using and abusing drugs and/or alcohol. Sufferers can experience a cycle of isolation, drug and/or alcohol abuse, and depression. Other mental health disorders can develop such as anxiety. Drug and alcohol abuse can even lead to further OCD. Unfortunately, addiction and OCD can increase and lead to hospitalization, eating disorder and/or destructive behavior.

Getting help for OCD and Addiction

OCD affects a small percentage of people. It is estimated that as much as 2.2% of the population is affected by OCD in a given year.5https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd.shtml Although OCD isn’t common compared to other psychiatric disorders, it is an all-consuming condition that has serious implications on a person’s life. The combination of OCD and addition only make a person’s life more difficult.

Medical professionals can now help OCD and addiction sufferers more than ever before.6https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1081/JA-100108428?scroll=top&needAccess=true&journalCode=isum20 There is a range of medical resources that give specialists the ability to help patients.7https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Compulsivity-and-probabilistic-reversal-learning-in-Smith-Benzina/3ae46b47d433f38939d014125a081abd11bff81c Unfortunately, OCD sufferers often do not realize there is help available to them. They may live for years with both OCD and addiction problems before getting the help they need.

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References: OCD and Addiction

  1. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. 4th ed. Arlington, VA: Author; 2000. []
  2. Kessler RC, Berglund P, Demler O, Jin R, Merikangas KR, Walters EE. Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005;62:593–602. [PubMed] []
  3. Fontenelle LF, Mendlowicz MV, Marques C, Versiani M. Trans-cultural aspects of obsessive-compulsive disorder: a description of a Brazilian sample and a systematic review of international clinical studies. J Psychiatr Res. 2004;38:403–411. [PubMed] []
  4. . Matsunaga H, Maebayashi K, Hayashida K, Okino K, Matsui T, Iketani T, Kiriike N, Stein DJ. Symptom structure in Japanese patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 2008;165:251–253. [PubMed] []
  5. Fontenelle IS, Fontenelle LF, Borges MC, Prazeres AM, Rangé BP, Mendlowicz MV, Versiani M. Quality of life and symptom dimensions of patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Psychiatry Res. 2010;179:198–203. [PubMed] []
  6. Foa EB, Liebowitz MR, Kozak MJ, Davies S, Campeas R, Franklin ME, Huppert JD, Kjernisted K, Rowan V, Schmidt AB, et al. Randomized, placebo-controlled trial of exposure and ritual prevention, clomipramine, and their combination in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 2005;162:151–161. [PubMed] []
  7. Abramowitz J, Franklin M, Foa E. Empirical status of cognitive-behavioral therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder: a meta-analytic review. Rom J Cogn Behav Psychother. 2002;2:89–104. []
  8. Westra HA, Dozois DJA. Preparing clients for cognitive behavioral therapy: A randomized pilot study of motivational interviewing for anxiety. Cognit Ther Res. 2006;30:481–498. []
  9. Conger JJ. Alcoholism: theory, problem and challenge. II. Reinforcement theory and the dynamics of alcoholism. Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol. 1956;17:296–305. [PubMed] []
  10. Endicott J, Nee J, Harrison W, Blumenthal R. Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire: a new measure. Psychopharmacology Bulletin. 1993;29(2):321–326. [PubMed] []
  11. Hasin DS, Grant BF. Psychiatric diagnosis of patients with substance abuse problems: a comparison of two procedures, the DIS and the SADS-L. Alcoholism, drug abuse/dependence, anxiety disorders and antisocial personality disorder. Journal of Psychiatric Research. 1987;21(1):7–22. [PubMed] []
  12. Merikangas KR, Angst J. Comorbidity and social phobia: evidence from clinical, epidemiologic, and genetic studies. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 1995;244(6):297–303. [PubMed] []
  13. Por M. MD, Soames H., Squire J., BPD and Alcohol 2020 [Worlds Best Rehab]
  14. Robins LN, Helzer JE, Weissman MM, Orvaschel H, Gruenberg E, Burke JD, Jr., et al. Lifetime prevalence of specific psychiatric disorders in three sites. Archives of General Psychiatry. 1984;41(10):949–958. [PubMed] []
  15. Sher L. Alcoholism and suicidal behavior: a clinical overview. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. 2006;113(1):13–22. [PubMed] []
  16. Yaryura-Tobias JA, Grunes MS, Todaro J, McKay D, Neziroglu FA, Stockman R. Nosological insertion of axis I disorders in the etiology of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of Anxiety Disorders. 2000;14(1):19–30. [PubMed] []
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OCD and Addiction
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