Get 24/7 Help Now. 800-654-0987

OCD – How It Relates to Addiction

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, also known as OCD, is often treated as a joke, but it is very real and can cause severe issues for those it affects. In addition, it also commonly occurs with addiction, and both disorders can intensify one another, creating the need for intensive treatment. If you or a loved one is suffering from these illnesses simultaneously, call 800-654-0987 now to find a rehab program that will fit your needs.

What is OCD?

According to the National Library of Medicine, OCD is a type of anxiety disorder. “If you have OCD, you have frequent, upsetting thoughts called obsessions.” You will also experience the need to perform certain actions in order to control these thoughts, which are called compulsions. People who suffer from OCD may sometimes know these beliefs or actions are unhealthy, but they will often be unable to stop engaging in them simply because they have no control over them.

How Does OCD Relate to Addiction?

OCD often runs in families, and it is thought that brain circuits may not work properly in those who suffer from this disorder. In addition, it is common for someone with OCD to also suffer from a substance abuse disorder or addiction.

Many people with OCD who begin abusing drugs and alcohol do so as a way to cope with or minimize feelings of fear or anxiety. Unfortunately, the use of addictive substances is a dangerous coping method, and many individuals who do so become addicted. The thoughts and rituals involved in having OCD can also affect an individual’s daily life, which increases their desire for a coping mechanism. What’s even more problematic is that both issues cause a number of the same effects in those who suffer from them.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of OCD and Addiction?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, certain behaviors and symptoms strongly point to OCD, including:


  • Germs
  • Unwanted thoughts involving taboo subjects (sex, religion, self-harm, etc.)
  • Aggressive thoughts
  • Having things in perfect order


  • Excessive cleaning
  • Ordering or arranging and rearranging things
  • Repeatedly checking things
  • Compulsive counting

A person will likely think about these things even if they are not currently engaging in their compulsive behaviors and will spend at least an hour or more a day engaged in them. They will usually not experience pleasure after repeating these behaviors but, instead, a kind of relief from anxiety. The person will also feel that they are not in control of themselves and their life and experience frequent issues as a result.

These are also symptoms similar to those caused by addiction, as the illness is characterized by compulsive abuse and drug seeking (National Institute on Drug Abuse). Whichever issue comes first, it is likely that one will only intensify the other and the individual will suffer from multiple uncontrolled and dangerous behaviors that will require intensive treatment.

How Are These Comorbid Disorders Treated?

Both disorders must be treated at the same time in order to ensure that one does not derail the progress of the other. A patient should receive therapy in rehab that will help them

  • Cope with stress and triggers
  • Learn to recognize damaging and untrue thoughts that lead to compulsions
  • Start to reverse problematic habits and create safer, more beneficial ones
  • Understand why they began using drugs and/or experiencing the symptoms of OCD in the first place, allowing the patient to face that which may have caused these issues
  • Practice better life skills for the future

Sometimes, medications can be necessary as well. There are many pharmacological options for the treatment of OCD and for specific drug addiction syndromes. It is important that your doctor ensures that no medications will react dangerously with one another and that you will be safe while taking them.

Seek Help Today

OCD can be a dangerous, damaging illness, as can addiction. When they occur simultaneously, it is important to seek out a professional treatment program that can handle both and provide a long-term solution of recovery. Call 800-654-0987 now to find the best rehab program for your needs and to safely and effectively recover from both disorders.

Insurance Accepted

We accept most health insurance.
Call now for a free insurance benefit check

Learn About Insurance Options