The existence of both obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and a substance abuse problem in a single patient is a common occurrence. One study on the subject, published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, found that about 27 percent of their participants – all of whom were diagnosed with OCD – met the criteria for having a co-occurring substance use disorder at some point in their lives.
The study also found that:
- About 70 percent of participants reported that OCD symptoms began prior to the development of a substance abuse disorder.
- The earlier the symptoms of OCD began, the more likely it was that the person would develop an alcohol use disorder.
- More than 25 percent of patients who seek treatment for OCD are also struggling with a drug or alcohol abuse or dependence issue.
- OCD patients who are also diagnosed with borderline personality disorder may be even more likely to develop a substance abuse problem.
When multiple serious disorders like OCD and substance abuse co-occur in one person, the best choice is a treatment program that has the resources and experience to provide in-depth treatment for both disorders at the same time. Contact us today for more information.
Signs of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder that is defined by compulsive, repetitive behaviors and/or thoughts that intrude upon the person’s ability to function normally on a day-to-day basis. The person has no ability to control these compulsive behaviors or thoughts and even though he may recognize that they are not logical or necessary, he is unable to stop indulging in them without treatment.
Signs of Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Dependence upon any drug, including alcohol, is a medical disorder that is defined by a psychological and physical need for the drug on an ongoing basis. Patients diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder (SUD) often feel physically ill when they are without their drug of choice.
Withdrawal symptoms are part of the physical dependence, but the psychological dependence upon the drug, signified by cravings and the compulsive need to drink or get high despite the problems caused by that behavior, are arguably the most difficult to overcome.
OCD and Substance Abuse
When a patient struggles with the symptoms of both drug and alcohol abuse and obsessive-compulsive disorder, it can be difficult for everyone in the family. The addicted person may:
- Exhibit extreme mood swings
- Experience extreme OCD episodes when under the influence or when suddenly without their drug of choice
- Be unable to function on a day-to-day basis depending upon the nature of their OCD behaviors and/or the severity of their addiction
- Lie about their use of drugs or alcohol
- Ignore health problems caused by their OCD behaviors, their substance use disorder, or the combination of the two issues
- Feel unsafe or uncomfortable if unable to indulge in their OCD behaviors and/or drink or get high
- Experience altered sleep patterns, eating patterns, or behavior patterns depending upon their drug of choice
Common drugs of abuse among OCD patients include alcohol, sedatives and opiate drugs like painkillers or heroin, as many patients seek to self-medicate their anxiety with substances they believe will lower their stress levels.
Treatment for OCD and Addiction
Often, the existence of co-occurring disorders of obsessive-compulsive disorder and addiction go under-diagnosed, according to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. For this reason, it is often beneficial for your loved one to undergo a thorough evaluation when he begins treatment in order to diagnose any and all issues, including mental health disorders like OCD, prior to treatment. In this way, the treatment plan can be personalized to your family member’s needs, thus increasing their chances of a successful recovery.
Dual Diagnosis rehabilitation is the best way to proceed when both a mental health disorder and substance abuse are suspected.
Contact us today at the number above to learn more from our admissions coordinators.
Further Reading About Spotting the Signs of OCD and Addiction
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton