Are Alcoholism and OCD Related?

Are alcoholism and OCD related? It’s a common question, and the short answer is yes, in many ways not just alcoholism but addiction in general has been shown to have some relationship with obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD. We’ll talk about what OCD is, and some of the ways there are relationships between this mental disorder and addiction, including alcoholism.

Are Alcoholism and OCD Related?
You’ve probably heard people joke around and say they’re OCD when it comes to everything from avoiding germs to keeping their house a certain way, but OCD is actually a diagnosable mental health disorder that goes beyond liking things clean or orderly. With alcoholism, there are often underlying co-occurring mental health disorders a person suffers from, and OCD and alcoholism are just one example of this.

Someone with OCD has intrusive thoughts or urges that creating anxiety and a sense of distress, and the behaviors that people with this disorder do are meant as a way to stop feeling distressed or eliminate the obsessions they’re experiencing.

It’s normal for people to experience some level of obsessive thoughts during points of their life, but that doesn’t mean they have OCD.

A diagnosis of OCD instead is made when a person’s obsessions and compulsions have come to the point where they’re disruptive to their daily life.

Compulsions are things that people with OCD don’t want to do but feel like they have to, and they often take up a lot of time. Common examples of compulsions in OCD include excessive hand washing or showering, checking that you didn’t make a mistake or hurt someone over and over again, counting while doing tasks, and repeating routine activities or doing things in multiples.

Someone with OCD knows their fear or anxiety is unreasonable but they still aren’t able to stop their need to perform their rituals, and it’s believed there is a genetic component to OCD.

Some of the most typical fears associated with OCD include a fear of being exposed to bacteria or viruses, an obsession with certain numbers, being obsessed with religious topics, sexual obsessions, and constant thoughts of harming someone else or oneself.

Frequently people ask are alcoholism and OCD related?

OCD is a form of an anxiety disorder, and according to the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, over 25 percent of people who seek treatment for OCD also meet the criteria indicating they have a substance use disorder, which can include alcoholism.

People who first begin experiencing symptoms of OCD earlier in their life, such as childhood, are more prone to having a later substance abuse problem. It’s often because they turn to substances like alcohol as a way to cope with the extreme sense of fear and anxiety they deal with.

What happens when someone has OCD and then turns to a substance like alcohol to cope with the anxiety is that at the start, the alcohol or the substance will provide some relief in many cases. Unfortunately, self-medicating of any kind then ultimately leads to more negative effects and an increased level of anxiety.

When someone enters into a cycle of self-medicating with alcohol, it can then lead to a physical or psychological dependence.

Once this happens, it’s difficult to escape from either the cycle of OCD or alcoholism unless both are treated at the same time. That’s where the concept of dual diagnosis comes into the equation.

With dual diagnosis, a person can simultaneously receive treatment and therapy for both their OCD and alcoholism, which can help prevent the likelihood of relapse, and help them be more successful in their recovery.

Some of the treatment options for OCD include cognitive behavioral therapy, which is used to reduce the anxiety a person feels toward certain triggers by exposing them to these triggers repeatedly. This is often the preferred treatment option with mild forms of OCD.

People with OCD may also be treated with SSRIs which are (IOCDF, n.d.)a class of drugs used to treat depression, and this can work well when paired with cognitive behavioral therapy as well. There are also other medications that can be used for treatment.

These are also some of the treatment tools used not to cure alcoholism, but to help treat the symptoms and prepare the individual for a more successful recovery.

Also relevant to the question of are alcoholism and OCD related is taking a more in-depth look at what a Dual Diagnosis is. With a Dual Diagnosis, a patient meets the criteria for both a substance use disorder such as alcoholism, and also a mental health condition. In the case of a Dual Diagnosis, the patient receives specialized care with an understanding of how the conditions interact and relate to each other.

If you have OCD and you also suffer from alcoholism or a substance use disorder, it’s important to seek qualified help, because the combination can quickly spiral out of control and lead to very serious, or deadly consequences.

Are Alcoholism and OCD Related?
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Are Alcoholism and OCD Related? was last modified: July 19th, 2017 by The Recovery Village