The Link between Obsessive Thoughts, Compulsive Behaviors, and Substance Abuse
People who struggle with obsessive thoughts, compulsive behaviors, or any of the related disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and others, may develop a substance abuse problem in order to self-medicate the severity of the symptoms. This could involve an intoxicating substance like alcohol or heroin, which can calm the mind and slow down the body, or it could be a prescription medication, such as a benzodiazepine, which can be very addictive. In some cases, OCD, obsessive thoughts, or compulsive behaviors are triggered by brain changes from a substance use disorder and may center around acquiring a steady supply of the addictive substance.
Regardless of what mental health issue is linked to substance abuse, people who struggle with mental health problems are at a greater risk of developing substance abuse problems, and vice versa. When both disorders co-occur, appropriate treatment is needed that can effectively address both issues. Many rehabilitation programs offer treatment for co-occurring disorders that can help clients achieve recovery from obsessive thoughts, compulsive behaviors, and substance abuse.