Having obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can mean living with an extreme amount of anxiety every day. As the condition progresses and the mind becomes harder and harder to control, it’s easy to understand why turning to drugs or alcohol might seem reasonable or desirable. As the substances take over, the mind begins to slow, and the anxiety can fade.
Unfortunately, what might seem like a clever coping technique at the moment could have dangerous consequences down the road. Using substances like this could lead to addiction issues, and those addictions could make mental health conditions even harder to control.
That’s why it’s important to seek help in a dual diagnosis treatment program that can address both OCD and addiction simultaneously. At our OCD and addiction treatment in Palm Springs, California, we understand the unique challenges of this combination of disorders. We have the tools to help you regain control of your mind and life.
While OCD can take many forms, and people who have the disorder may differ from one another in significant ways, the condition is often described as having two separate but distinct phases. In the first phase, the obsession, the person becomes consumed with an unwanted thought or idea. While these obsessions could revolve around almost anything, they often include:
- Fear of dirt, germs, or contamination
- Fear of harming a loved one
- Unpleasant sexual images or thoughts
- Concern with order or symmetry
- Excessive doubt
In the second phase, the compulsion, the person may engage in repetitive behaviors or rituals to release their anxiety. These compulsions could range from excessive hand washing or cleaning to repeatedly checking locks or appliances, counting objects in a specific way, and hoarding items. These obsessions and compulsions can become all-consuming and interfere with daily life, relationships, and overall well-being.
The Overlap Between OCD and Addiction
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), over two million American adults have OCD anytime. For some people, the disease comes and goes with time, with symptoms worsening due to stress and then easing up when life seems to be going in the right direction. Other people develop chronic OCD that does not seem to decrease with time.
Addiction and OCD can overlap in a variety of ways. Some researchers believe that people with significant and long-standing addiction issues may exhibit symptoms of OCD due to their addictions. But for others, the relationship between OCD and addiction may have been present before the addiction began. When OCD symptoms lead to constant distress and frustration in daily life, turning to substances like alcohol or drugs may feel like a viable solution to cope with those feelings.
The problem is that while substance use may offer temporary relief, it can also lead to addiction and further complicate the OCD symptoms. When left untreated, this could lead to substance abuse issues that are even harder to control. That’s why it’s essential to seek help in a dual diagnosis treatment program that can address both OCD and addiction simultaneously.
The First Step in OCD and Addiction Treatment
Addiction treatment programs are customizable, allowing doctors to pull together treatments designed to help with the right problem at the right time. To provide this care, however, medical professionals must spend significant time assessing the person to determine what is occurring alongside the addiction issue. Many people with undiagnosed OCD enter addiction programs and learn about their condition for the first time.
There is no blood test or brain scan that can diagnose OCD. Instead, medical professionals ask questions such as:
- Do you have thoughts that seem silly or frightening?
- Are you worried you’ll be aggressive when you would rather not act that way?
- Are you concerned about germs?
- Do disorder and disarray bother you?
- How often do you wash your hands every day?
- Do you ever need to “check” things repeatedly to ensure they’re done right?
Getting help for OCD and addiction is not always easy, but it can lead to a much better quality of life.
OCD and Addiction Therapy
Therapy is a crucial aspect of both OCD and addiction treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is often used to help people with OCD learn to challenge their obsessive thoughts and resist engaging in compulsive behaviors. CBT can also be helpful for people struggling with substance abuse, as it teaches skills for managing cravings and avoiding relapse triggers.
Therapy can also provide a supportive environment for individuals to process the emotions they have been avoiding through their compulsions or substance use. In some cases, medication may also be prescribed as part of OCD and addiction treatment, with careful monitoring by medical professionals to ensure it is not being abused. OCD and addiction counseling can also help individuals learn to cope with triggers, build a strong support network, and develop healthy coping mechanisms for managing stress.
Finding Help for OCD and Addiction from Michael's House
While dual diagnosis treatment might provide the best chances for a solid recovery, it’s not the care that every program can provide. For example, some programs focus only on mental health issues. Still, they can’t provide the medical supervision required for withdrawal from drugs like heroin or prescription medications. Other programs offer supervision for drug use issues, but they don’t have mental health experts on staff to assist with OCD concerns.
It’s significant for people with a dual diagnosis to choose a program that can provide therapies for both issues simultaneously. At Michael’s House, our programs are designed to meet the needs of people with dual diagnosis issues. Please get in touch with us today at 760.548.4032 to find out about our approach.