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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder And Addiction

Man depressed

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as an anxiety disorder. It is characterized as a mental illness involving recurrent unwanted thoughts and/ or actions. OCD is known as one of the most common mental illnesses in America. An individual with OCD will engage in repeated and compulsive rituals that greatly interfere with his or her daily life. If left untreated OCD can lead to a plethora of adverse short and long-term effects, including depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. Addiction is listed in the DSM-5 as a brain disorder that is characterized by habitually engaging in rewarding stimuli regardless of the negative consequences. Addiction can wreak havoc in all areas of one’s life as the individual consistently prioritizes satisfying his or her drug cravings above all else. 


Every individual is different, and the connection between the development of one’s OCD and addiction will be distinct to each person. Coping with the symptoms that present with OCD can be incredibly exhausting. Hence, it is not uncommon for an individual to attempt to self-medicate through the use and abuse of drugs and/ or alcohol in efforts to alleviate some of the adverse OCD symptoms. Although this method may provide some short-term relief, abusing drugs and/ or alcohol as a self-medicating tactic is not sustainable, nor will it yield long-term relief. Furthermore, consistent drug and/ or alcohol abuse, regardless of the reason for one engaging in the drug abusing behaviors increases one’s propensity for developing an addiction. 

On the other hand, engaging in persistent substance abuse can cause dormant mental health ailments to surface and/ or fully manifest. The habitual abuse of drugs can affect the way one’s brain functions. When an individual abuses drugs and/ or alcohol his or her body becomes accustomed to functioning with the substance present. When he or she is unable to function in its absence there is a high likelihood that he or she has developed an addiction. One’s brain will create certain neural pathways and synaptic connections that will only be active when the substance is in his or her system. The synaptic connections that are created to accommodate one’s drug and/ or alcohol use could awaken dormant mental health ailments. According to the Journal of Anxiety Disorder, over twenty five percent of individuals who seek treatment for OCD also meet the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Individuals that are diagnosed with addiction in addition to another mental health disorder have a dual diagnosis. There are a plethora of substance abuse and addiction treatment options for individuals in need. It is imperative for an individual with a dual diagnosis to attend a treatment program that is able to accommodate the nuanced needs that accompany a dual diagnosis or even attend a specialized dual diagnosis treatment program.  

For Information and Support

Substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly dangerous, and can result in severe short and long-term consequences. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please get help as soon as possible. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to leading happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. There is no reason to go through this alone, and we are here to help. Please feel free to reach out to us for further information or with any questions regarding substance abuse or addiction. We are available anytime via telephone at: 213-389-9964, or you can always email us at:

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