Obsessive Compulsive Related Disorders And Addiction

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on July 5, 2021

Drug and alcohol addiction commonly co-occurs with obsessive-compulsive and related disorders like OCD and body dysmorphia. Treatment for this will generally involve detox, behavioral therapy, and integrated mental health treatment.

Co-Occurring Obsessive-Compulsive Related Disorders And Addiction

Substance use disorders affect more than 20 million Americans. Nearly half also have a co-occurring mental health disorder.

Obsessive-compulsive and related disorders frequently co-occur with substance abuse. This is known as dual diagnosis or comorbidity.

Treatment for dual diagnosis may involve the use of behavioral therapy, substance abuse treatment, and mental health treatment.

Learn more about co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders

What Are Obsessive-Compulsive And Related Disorders?

This is a specific type of mental illness. People with an obsessive-compulsive or related disorder may have certain obsessions, compulsions, or unusual habits that they struggle to control.

Obsessive-compulsive and related disorders include:

Obsessions can refer to unwanted and intrusive urges, thoughts, images, or impulses. Compulsions are repetitive actions, or “rituals,” that a person feels compelled to do.

Signs And Symptoms Of Obsessive-Compulsive And Related Disorders

Mental health disorders that fall into this category can vary in their symptoms. They’re similar, however, in that people will usually feel unable to control their obsessions or compulsions.

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • excessive washing or cleaning
  • obsession with contamination or germs
  • obsessively counting
  • being overly preoccupied with rearranging, collecting, or ordering items
  • being overly preoccupied with perceived flaws
  • compulsive body-checking
  • excessively picking at skin or pulling out hair
  • having an irrational belief that thoughts will cause actual harm
  • being unable to control repetitive behaviors

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People with these disorders can experience significant disruptions in their ability to work, attend school, socialize, and both form and maintain healthy relationships.

Addiction And OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), formerly classified as an anxiety disorder, affects an estimated one in 40 adults and one in 100 children in the United States.

Cases of OCD can vary, with mild to severe effects on a person’s functioning level. Substance use may become a compulsive behavior in people with OCD. It can also be used as a way to self-medicate.

Addiction And Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a type of obsessive-compulsive and body-image disorder, characterized by a hyper fixation on body image and perceived flaws.

The intense anxiety, agitation, and low self-esteem that accompany this disorder may make a person more susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse.

Addiction And Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding is a compulsive behavior of collecting, arranging, or reordering items in a way that is obsessive and excessive.

Drugs and alcohol may be used to self-medicate anxiety or stress that accompanies this disorder. Substance abuse may worsen symptoms of hoarding disorder and increase their severity.

Addiction And Body-Focused Repetitive Disorder

Body-focused repetitive disorder is a type of unspecified obsessive-compulsive and related disorder.

People with this disorder may engage in repetitive behaviors such as excessive hair-pulling (trichotillomania) or skin-picking (excoriation).

The intense anxiety that accompanies this disorder may lead a person to misuse drugs or alcohol to cope. Substance use can also become its own compulsive behavior, making it difficult for a person to stop.

The Link Between OCD And Addiction

Research on the co-occurrence of substance abuse and obsessive-compulsive and related disorders has identified several common trends and important findings.

These trends include:

  • Nearly 40 percent of adults with OCD are also estimated to have a drug or alcohol use disorder.
  • Fewer than half of people with co-occurring OCD and substance use disorders seek treatment for their OCD.
  • Substance use co-occurs in an estimated 15 to 17 percent of people with trichotillomania.
  • Obsessive-compulsive and related disorders can be influenced by genetics, hereditary factors, as well as trauma—similar to substance abuse.

The development of these disorders generally precedes substance abuse. In others, excessive drug or alcohol use may develop as its own compulsive behavior.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment For Obsessive Compulsive And Related Disorders

Overcoming substance addiction isn’t easy. With a co-occurring mental health disorder, it can be even more challenging.

Dual diagnosis treatment is the most effective type of treatment for people with both a substance use disorder and one or more mental health disorders.

This type of treatment program offers traditional substance abuse services—like detox—as well as integrated mental health services to address the unique issues people with a dual diagnosis can face.

Finding Treatment For A Dual Diagnosis

If you’re looking for treatment for yourself or a loved one with a dual diagnosis, look no further.

By calling us today, we can:

  • verify your insurance
  • identify available treatment options
  • help you choose a treatment program that fits your needs

Recovery is possible. Call us today to find a dual diagnosis treatment program that’s right for you.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on July 5, 2021


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