How OCD and Addiction are Related to Each Other

It is well documented that occurrence of mental illness and substance abuse, a circumstance known as comorbidity, is very common. These separate disorders feed into one another, making both worse and complicating treatment for either.

There are many mental problems that may be connected with substance abuse. One mental disorder that has been shown to be associated with addiction is obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. But, how are OCD and addiction related?

What is OCD?

In order to understand how OCD and addiction are related, you first have to know what OCD is. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental illness in the anxiety disorder spectrum that is marked with recurring, uncontrollable thoughts and behaviors.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the symptoms of OCD are very profound, and are divided into two categories. These are obsessions and compulsions.


OCD and Addiction

Someone with OCD may have an unnatural fear of microorganisms or dirt.

These symptoms are related to how a person thinks and may include:

  • unnatural fear of microorganisms or dirt
  • unwanted thoughts about religion, forbidden actions, or sex
  • aggressive thoughts related to violence to others or self
  • constantly thinking about the way things are organized or ordered

These symptoms, when extreme, constitute obsession and make up the first part of obsessive compulsive disorder. If you need to find treatment for OCD and substance abuse, call us at 888-647-0051 (Who Answers?) .


The symptoms of compulsion are similar to those of obsession, except that they involve behavior. This can include:

  • frequent and unnecessary cleaning of living spaces, work spaces, and self
  • constant ordering and arranging things a certain way
  • repetitive counting or listing
  • constantly re-checking things

These kinds of behaviors constitute compulsions when done to extremes and round out the hall marks of a mental illness that requires treatment.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder causes Addiction

It is obvious that there is a relationship between substance abuse and mental illness. However, can OCD actually cause addiction? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, mental illnesses can cause substance abuse and addiction.

This most likely happens when people with poorly controlled or untreated mental disorders, such as OCD, attempt to self-medicate. Some addictive drugs that may be related to OCD are:

  • clonidine
  • heroin
  • prescription opiates
  • Xanax

All of these drugs are depressants or anti-anxiety medications, which may be helpful in persons suffering from OCD. Unfortunately they are also easily abused, resulting in an addiction that requires treatment.

Treatment for Addiction with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

All of the experts agree that people suffering from both a substance use disorder and a mental illness must be treated for both. Failing to do so damages the recovery process, and makes it likely that they will relapse into drug abuse.

Therefore, it is necessary for these people to find addiction treatment centers that address both issues. Finding one of these centers can be difficult, but we are here to help. Call us today at 888-647-0051 (Who Answers?) , and we can assist you in finding the right treatment center for your addiction and OCD.


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