How OCD Can Lead to Substance Abuse

When Using Substance Abuse to Cope with OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) often makes people feel cornered. This adverse neurological disease affects millions of men, women, and children worldwide. They must go through great extremes to hide this condition from others. People with OCD are worried about being judged and the stigma attached to mental illness.

Unfortunately, some people will not seek help because of worrying about what others will think. It may result in using unhealthy habits to cope with having OCD. The combination of both disorders can be unpredictable and possibly heighten their anxiety disorder.

What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental illness that is made up of obsessions and compulsions. It causes repeated thoughts, unwanted sensations, urges, and intrusive mental images. These things cause the person to experience anxiety. Common signs of OCD obsessions include:

  • Unforbidden thoughts that include religion, harm or sex
  • Fear of contamination and germs
  • Aggressive thoughts toward self and others
  • The need to put things in perfect or in symmetrical order

People with OCD perform rituals to prevent from experiencing anxiety. Common signs of OCD compulsions include:

  • Excessive hand washing or cleaning
  • Repeatedly checking things like checking to make sure the doors are locked
  • Arranging things in a precise or particular order
  • Compulsive counting

However, these symptoms are not always consistent. They may come and go, get better with time, or get worse. OCD rituals, thoughts, and actions also take a substantial amount of time, mental energy, and physical energy.

Some people with OCD may have a motor tic disorder or a vocal tic disorder. Motor tics may cause brief, sudden, repetitive movements. These movements may include shoulder or head jerking, shoulder shrugging, facial grimacing, eye blinking, or other eye movements. Vocal tics may include repetitive grunting sounds, sniffing, and throat clearing.

People with OCD usually try to avoid situations that trigger their obsessions. They also turn to alcohol and drugs to cope. OCD and substance abuse is not a good combination. When left untreated, it can affect all aspects of your life.

Why People Try to Self-Medicate OCD with Drugs or Alcohol

Some people who are dealing with mental health issues also have problems with drug addiction. OCD can cause a significant amount of mental and emotional pain. To cope with the pain, sufferers may self-medicate on drugs and alcohol.

Compulsions and obsessions are distractions. Most people must go to work every day and maintain a household. A person with OCD has to maintain a healthy routine while managing these distractions. For some OCD individuals, it becomes impossible to live a normal life.

It becomes physically and mentally draining. To find relief, some people with OCD may turn to drugs and alcohol. However, it is only temporary relief, which means using more drugs. Over time with continued abuse, you can develop an alcohol or drug addiction.

OCD and addiction cause you to feel isolated from the world. People with OCD want to keep their compulsions and obsessions private. Self-isolation creates feelings of loneliness and shame. It leads to staying away from the public and using drugs.

The combination of OCD and substance abuse can cause severe physical and mental damage. If you want to get help with obsessive-compulsive disorder, you will also need substance abuse treatment. With a dual diagnosis, it is essential to treat both diseases together to find relief.

Dangers of OCD and Substance Abuse and Dependence

When people are addicted to drugs, they have an intense focus on getting their next fix. The addiction becomes so bad that it takes over the person’s life. This behavior is compounded by having an obsessive-compulsive disorder. These disorders cause the person to act out in a negative manner.

People with OCD also must keep their drug abuse a secret. When loved ones find out, the person usually has developed a full-blown chemical dependence. Combining both disorders may cause the person to lose interest in hobbies, activities, and loved ones. People with OCD tend to spend more time behind locked doors. They may become aggressive, defensive, agitated, and hostile as well.

Combining both disorders may cause the person to pick up bad habits like hiding drug paraphernalia and empty alcohol bottles. People with dual diagnosis may get involved with criminal activity like stealing. They also may start staying out late and sleeping through the mornings. Ultimately, it can lead to violent outbursts that can hurt self or someone else.

The afflictions of both disorders tend to overlap and heighten the symptoms. A lot of energy also goes into the person trying to hide their OCD and addiction. A person with OCD without treatment will continue to deteriorate mentally.

TMS Treatment for OCD

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) was initially developed to treat depression. Currently, it is a tool that can treat a variety of mental health conditions. TMS is a noninvasive procedure that stimulates nerve cells in the brain. This procedure uses magnetic waves. It works by placing an electromagnetic coil against a patient’s head.

This coil generates electromagnetic pulses, which passes through the patient’s skull. These pulses stimulate the area of the brain that is thought to regulate mood. It treats the left dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain usually goes dormant when a person slips in depression.

TMS is carried out in sessions that last 18 minutes. However, you have to meet with a psychiatrist before going through TMS treatment. A psychiatrist can help with determining the best treatment for your mental health. TMS also offers you a drug-free approach to overcoming mental illness. However, it will take a combination of treatments to overcome these conditions.

Some people feel anxious when they are not in control. This unpredictability causes stress and makes it hard to live a normal life. If you want to gain control of your life, you need to seek help to support your mental well-being. Contact Pulse TMS to schedule a consultation to help you overcome OCD and addiction.