How to Cope With OCD in Addiction Treatment

How to Cope With OCD in Addiction Treatment

Living with a mental health disorder is not easy. Each day may be a challenge that sometimes doesn’t seem worth the fight. However, every day is a gift and a chance to break free from the heartache your mental health and your addiction may be causing you. This is especially the case if you are experiencing obsessive-compulsive disorder, otherwise known as OCD.

If you are tackling addiction treatment and are living with OCD, experiencing good and bad days is common. Talking to your doctor about your symptoms is the first step in getting proper treatment for your mental health disorder. However, what if you could treat both OCD and addiction at the same time?

Finding the right program that treats your OCD and your addiction can be of immense help as you get life back on track. OCD is a hard mental health disorder to live with daily. Treating both your mental health and your addiction could be key in helping you cope with and manage your symptoms better.

What Is OCD?

OCD is a common but chronic mental health disorder. A person experiencing OCD will have reoccurring and uncontrollable thoughts along with behaviors that they feel the need to repeat. These “obsessions” and “compulsions” interfere with a person’s daily life. It can also hinder them from making choices they would otherwise make without having OCD.

If you are experiencing the following symptoms, you may want to chat with your doctor to learn more about your mental health situation.


Obsessions are repeated thoughts and urges that cause anxiety and may include mental images.

Common symptoms of obsessions include:

  • Extreme fear of germs and or contamination and unsanitary conditions
  • Unwanted thoughts that are taboo, usually about sex, religion, or harm
  • Aggressive thoughts toward yourself and others
  • Having things in perfect symmetrical order

When dealing with addiction and having obsessions, you may feel victimized by your obsessions and driven to your substance of choice. It may be harder to keep up with treatment when dealing with reoccurring unnecessary thinking. Having a therapist to talk to about these symptoms is the first step in learning to deal with them in a healthy manner.


Compulsions are things and actions that you feel you need to take in response to an obsessive thought. For example, if you just touched someone’s hand, you may feel an intense need to sanitize it right away. You may also feel intense fear and an urge to clean your whole body for protection.

Common compulsions include:

  • Excessive handwashing or cleaning of any areas that you find dirty or unsanitary
  • Ordering and arranging things in an exact way
  • Repeatedly checking on things like seeing if the door is locked, the stove is off, etc.
  • Compulsive counting

While checking to see if the door is locked doesn’t necessarily mean you have OCD, intense fears of leaving it unlocked after you checked it, and the need to do it over and over again could be a strong sign of having this mental health disorder.

In fact, according to European Neuropsychopharmacology: The Journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, “Compulsivity is not only a central characteristic of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) but is also crucial to addiction.” The paper argues that OCD is a common cause of addiction and could make your addiction symptoms worse if left untreated.

Getting Proper Help for OCD and Addiction

The link between addiction and OCD can be intimidating. However, once you find the connection between your addiction and your OCD, you get to work on a plan to get the proper help you need. There are many therapeutic ways to take control of your OCD while in addiction treatment. 


First, talking to your doctor about your symptoms is key to being diagnosed properly. They may prescribe medication or refer you to a psychiatrist to help you get the proper treatment. Medication in conjunction with therapy can be helpful if you feel your OCD is severe enough that it is impeding your progress in addiction treatment. Talk to your doctor before trying any medication, and always remember to only take the prescribed amount, whether you are on or coming off medication.

Outpatient Programs

When going into an intensive outpatient program (IOP) such as the one offered by Alter Wellness Care, you may find things overwhelming at first. That’s why it is encouraged to keep open communication with your therapist that is treating you.

Outpatient programs can offer therapy groups and psychotherapy programs such as CBT to help you learn how to cope with and manage your OCD symptoms. This way, they don’t have a strong and negative effect on your progress while in addiction treatment.

Lastly, the link between OCD and addiction isn’t always obvious. You may not recognize this connection until you are in treatment. If that is the case, don’t be afraid to take a step back and work on the underlying causes of your addiction. This may help you overcome addiction in the long run.

If you are in addiction treatment but are also experiencing a mental health disorder, there is help and the right program out there for you. We encourage you to talk to the team here at Alter Wellness Care. We provide outpatient programs that help those with addiction and mental health disorders and conditions. Our programs, such as CBT and group therapy, provide our clients with well-rounded treatment options to ensure their success when they become a part of the program. Our team of licensed medical professionals is here to help you get back on track and make your life healthier and happier. Call our office at (866) 311-3510 to learn more about how we can help you.

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