As many as half of hoarders might have a co-occurring substance abuse disorder. Discover why substance use is so prominent in people with hoarding disorder.

Effects of Substance Abuse on Hoarding Symptoms

Co-occurring substance use disorders can significantly impact treatment for a mental health disorder like hoarding. Someone with a substance use disorder is more likely to be disorganized and less likely to spend time cleaning their homes. If someone is already predisposed to a hoarding disorder, their mental health could decline rapidly as their substance abuse progresses.

Hoarding and Alcohol

Someone who abuses alcohol may be disorganized and fail to tend to their home, increasing clutter. They may continue to collect objects without taking the time to consider whether it’s necessary. The stress of keeping new possessions or the feeling of hopelessness experienced by people with hoarding disorder may make substance abuse appear as an emotional escape.

Hoarding and Marijuana

The stress and anxiety involved with throwing away their belongings may lead people with a hoarding disorder to experiment with marijuana. While this may seem like it would help someone with hoarding disorder to relax, it is more likely to cause them to disregard their environment entirely.

Hoarding and Stimulants

Some people with hoarding disorder may recognize that their hoarding is problematic and believe they could solve their problems if they had enough energy or motivation to clean up and get rid of some of their belongings. For this reason, people with a hoarding disorder are more likely than people without the disorder to abuse stimulant drugs. Like with other substances, the disorder may worsen as substance abuse increases and develops into a substance use disorder.

Statistics on Hoarding and Drug Use

Researchers have estimated that as many as half of people with hoarding disorder may also have a substance use disorder. While both may develop independently of one another, substance use disorders and hoarding may both develop from similar situations and false beliefs. Both disorders include compulsive behaviors often described as addictive tendencies. Hoarding can result in feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety, which can increase the probability of a co-occurring substance use disorder.

Drug Abuse as a Cause of Hoarding

It is unlikely that substance use will cause hoarding disorder to develop. However, for a person already developing a hoarding disorder, substance use may increase the symptoms of the hoarding disorder. High levels of disorganization and reduced self-care may contribute to the development of a hoarding disorder.

Treating Hoarding with Co-Occurring Substance Abuse

When hoarding disorder co-occurs with substance use disorders, clinicians need to treat simultaneously. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used psychotherapy approach and is used to challenge false beliefs regarding each disorder. In addition to treatment therapies, the treatment plan may also include medication.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use and co-occurring disorder like hoarding, help is available. At The Recovery Village, a team of professionals creates an individualized treatment plan for patients who need treatment for substance use and co-occurring disorders. Call and speak with a representative to learn about which program could work for you.

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Editor – Jennifer Kopf
Jennifer Kopf is a Florida-based writer who likes to balance creative writing with helpful and informative pieces. Her passion for helping people has translated into writing about the importance of treatment for substance use and mental health disorders. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Denise-Marie Griswold, LCAS
Denise-Marie Griswold is a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist. She earned her Master's Degree in Substance Abuse and Clinical Counseling from East Carolina University in 2014. Read more
Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.