OCD and Addiction Treatment

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When someone has OCD and turns to a substance as a way to self-medicate, they are looking for a way to manage their symptoms and feel a bit better again. The problem is that these steps are not going to be effective and the patient is going to make the situation worse. Finding the right treatment for OCD and addiction will be the key to helping the patient get their life back.

Overview of OCD

Obsessive compulsive disorder, also known as OCD, is a mental illness that involves the patient having recurrent, unwanted thoughts and actions. These thoughts and actions are going to take over the life of the individual and can use up energy and time in the patient. A person who has this disorder may find that it is really hard to manage the distractions that go on in their life and their healthy, daily routine will go out the window.

Because this disorder is going to take over the life of the patient, they are going to look for ways to self-medicate. They may assume that no treatment center will give them help or they may feel shame for the way that they are. This causes them to turn to different substances, including drugs and alcohol, in order to get some of the relief that they need. This is where a drug addiction can get into the mix, eventually requiring dual diagnosis treatment for OCD and drug or alcohol use.

The Symptoms of OCD

To recognize OCD, the patient first needs to be able to recognize some of the symptoms. These are often divided into two main parts for the patient to work through, including the obsessions and the compulsions.

First is the OCD obsessions. These are going to be forceful and frequent thoughts, images, or urges that are going to cause a lot of anxiety and distress to the patient. They may try to ignore them or they may do actions in order to get rid of them. This is when the patient is performing the compulsion. The distress that the patient has from these obsessions can cause the individual to withdraw to try and hide them or deal with it.

There are different obsessions that the patient is going to have and some of the more common options include:

  1. Fear of getting sick and any type of germs or bacteria.
  2. Obsession over numbers and trying to figure out which ones are good or bad.
  3. Intrusive thoughts of harming oneself or others.
  4. Fear of losing a loved one because of an illness or an injury
  5. Intrusive images of different sexual acts
  6. Becoming obsessive with a variety of religious topics.

Then the patient can also move into OCD compulsions. These are the actions and mental rituals that the person with OCD believes they need to do in order to make the unwanted thoughts go away. This is what we often assume is the whole thing with OCD is all about from movies and shows. These rituals are going to continue to happen, even when there is no logic to the action getting done in the first place.

The compulsion that happens will depend on what obsession the patient is going through. Some examples include:

  1. Cleaning and washing in excess
  2. Double checking things before leaving the house like locks and appliances, more than normal
  3. Tapping, repeating words, or counting to help soothe the distress the patient has.
  4. Praying excessively because of a religious type of fear
  5. Checking on people enough that it becomes annoying to the other person
  6. Hoarding

All of these are done obsessively. For example, a normal person will wash their hands after leaving the bathroom or sneezing, but they will do it for 20 to 30 seconds. But someone with OCD will be so scared of leaving any germs behind that they may spend 5 minutes washing their hands instead.

Addiction and OCD Occurring Together

There are a lot of issues that can come up when the patient suffers from OCD. It can cause a variety of mental and emotional pain and this can lead the patient to self-medicating to help themselves feel a bit better. Whether they know about the condition or not, they may find that a substance such as a drug or alcohol can make them feel better, even if it is short lived.

OCD is a serious mental disorder that is going to disrupt the life of the person who suffers from it. They will struggle with working, having a family life, or even having friends that they can spend time with. Coping with the obsessions that occur with this disorder is exhausting for everyone. Self-medicating may be one of the ways that the patient tries to help themselves feel better, even though it is an unhealthy coping mechanism. This is going to lead to repeated abuse any time that the urges and unwanted thoughts appear.

Addiction, OCD, and Social Isolation

It is possible for social isolation to happen for a person who is dealing with OCD. When the person is alone and dealing with the different side effects that come with OCD, they are going to feel like they are out of control and need some help. This is when they are going to start using drugs and it can turn into an addiction.

The hardest part about OCD is that the patient understands that the compulsions and obsessions do not make sense and that they should not be partaking in them at all. They may feel shame for the way they are, but they struggle to control it. OCD on its own is going to leave the patient feeling isolated from the outside world, but when the drug addiction is added in, the situation is going to feel worse.

It is common for the patient who has OCD and an addiction to feel shame, physical isolation, and loneliness all the time. And they do not know how to make it stop. These patients will need to look into OCD and addiction treatment to help them get some semblance back of their life.

OCD and Addiction Treatment

When the patient is dealing with OCD and addiction, they need to take the right steps to help get the issue under control. This is the only way for them to get their life back on track and to make sure that they can find healthy ways to cope with their OCD, rather than addiction. While the addiction may seem like a good idea and like it is helping them, it is just going to make the issue worse.

There are different options that the patient will be able to use to help treat the OCD and the addiction together. Any treatment for OCD and addiction needs to treat both of the issues at the same time, rather than just one. If the patient goes to a treatment center that only works on one of the conditions at a time, they are going to end up missing some of the important parts to see a full recovery.

The patient will need to work with a dual diagnosis treatment center to figure out which therapies and methods are the best for them. One option that tends to work well for many mental disorders, including OCD, is cognitive behavioral therapy. This is a great option that will help the patient learn how to handle their OCD and cope with some of the unwanted feelings and thoughts that lead them to the drug abuse in the first place. There are different options available to cope with the issues and a therapist will provide some of the assistance.

For the OCD symptoms, the patient will usually need to go on some medication, at least temporarily as they deal with the mental health issue. There are several medications that the patient is able to use, but antidepressants are a good option. While medication is a great way to help with some of the symptoms of OCD, this is an addiction that is going to require constant attention from the patient to help them stay healthy.

Choosing a Treatment Facility

There are different options that the patient will be able to choose for addiction and OCD treatment. Knowing which one is right for them will be the first step to ensure that they can get healthy and live the life that they want.

The first thing to consider is whether the patient would like to do an inpatient or an outpatient facility. These can both provide the patient with some of the best treatment available, but they do so in a different way. An inpatient facility asks the patient to spend time living at the center. This gives them some of the constant supervision that they need to fight off their triggers and get ahead. This can be useful for those that have tried other treatments and failed or those who have severe cases of both addiction and OCD and need supervision. This can provide them with more supervision during the detox as well.

Outpatient facilities are also an option for those who may not be able to leave their homes or stop with work and school while getting the treatment that they need. They will spend time each day getting therapy and other options, but can still go home. These may take a bit longer because the patient will need to learn how to handle the OCD without constant supervision.

The patient may need to choose the duration of the treatment as well. There are different timeframes based on the facility that they are choosing, but 30, 60, and 90 days tend to be the most common. One year treatment programs may also be available. The longer the treatment duration, the more likely it is that the patient will be healed and able to cope and manage their symptoms in the future.

What Will Happen During Treatment?

The exact course of action that will happen for the patient will depend on what type of facility they decide to go with. However, there are a few steps that seem to be similar, no matter which treatment center they choose for the addiction and OCD.

There will an admittance period that will help the medical professionals at the facility learn more about the patient and their case. This can help them to come up with a personalized plan that will help the patient the most. It is often followed by a withdrawal period that provides supervision to the patient while they get the drug or substance out of their system. Medication can be given if needed during this time.

Once the patient has finished the detox, they will go through several forms of therapy to help them cope with the OCD, manage it, and stay healthy without all of the substance abuse of the past. This can include a combination of individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy if it is needed. This is a time for the patient to recognize some of their symptoms and learn how to manage them better than before. Depending on the situation, the patient may be given some medications to manage OCD as well.

The patient will get a chance to form a good support group while they are in the facility. This will be helpful as the patient leaves at some point and can give them the help they need when they are done. While at the facility, they will meet others who will go through the same situation as the patient, giving them closer bonds than ever before and making the recovery process better.

When the treatment for OCD and substance abuse is done, the patient will be able to go back to their normal life, with the skills that they learned during the treatment center. They will still have an aftercare program to help them because addiction is a lifelong battle. They can rely on continued therapy, medications if necessary, and support groups to give them the best chance of success and limiting how likely it is that a relapse will happen.