It’s no secret that addiction and obsession often go hand in hand, but what you may not know is that there’s actually a reason behind this link. 

When you look at the brains of those with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), they process information differently than those without it, which can trigger impulsive or addictive behaviors in sufferers that they may not even be aware they’re exhibiting.

In other words, those who suffer from OCD might also be at risk of developing addictions later in life. This does not mean that everyone who suffers from OCD will develop addiction issues, but it does suggest that the two conditions are related in some way that science has yet to fully understand. 

Nevertheless, understanding this link between OCD and addiction will be crucial in helping to heal and treat those who are suffering from both conditions.

What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a mental health condition that is characterized by unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions). man hitting rock bottom in addiction and OCD

Compulsions are often repetitive actions done in the hope of preventing some negative event from occurring. For example, an individual with obsessive-compulsive disorder might wash their hands repeatedly to prevent getting germs on themselves. 

Obsessions are intrusive thoughts that are difficult to ignore or get rid of. A person with an obsession about germs might be unable to go out into public spaces for fear of contracting a disease. 

The person would also have difficulty concentrating because their mind would be focused on the idea that they need to do something in order to protect themselves from getting sick.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequences. 

Any psychoactive substance can trigger an addiction, but the most common substances associated with addiction are tobacco, alcohol, and opioid painkillers like OxyContin, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. 

Tolerance to the drug of choice develops in the brain over time and it takes more of the drug to produce the same effect. 

When this happens, someone who is addicted will use larger amounts of drugs or drink more alcohol to get high or have a buzz. 

Eventually, their ability to control how much they take will diminish until they find themselves unable to stop taking drugs or drinking no matter what harm it causes them. The person’s life becomes ruled by getting high rather than fulfilling responsibilities.

How Are OCD and Addiction Linked?

There is a hidden link between OCD and addiction, both are considered co-occurring disorders. When someone has an addiction, they may feel the need to engage in obsessive behaviors as a way of coping with the guilt or shame associated with their addiction. 

In turn, when someone suffers from OCD, they may feel the need to engage in addictive behaviors as a way of coping with their compulsions. For example, an alcoholic might drink more alcohol out of fear that he or she will think about alcohol all day if they don’t have it readily available. 

Similarly, a person suffering from obsessive thoughts might have to drink more alcohol in order to remain sober during these intrusive thoughts. These two disorders can feed off one another, making recovery difficult for anyone who suffers from them. 

It is therefore not uncommon for people who have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) to also have an addiction. In fact, the two disorders are often found in the same family. It’s unclear what causes this connection between OCD and addiction, but there are many theories. 

Some scientists think that people with OCD may have trouble making or breaking habits, which might explain why they would become addicted to substances. 

Other experts believe that those with both OCD and addiction are more likely to use the substance as a coping mechanism because they find it easier to stop when under its influence.

Helping You Explore The Relationship Between OCD and Addiction at Innovo Detox

An important step in treatment is recognizing the relationship between OCD and addiction. The sooner someone with both disorders can get professional help, the better their chances of getting healthier. 

There are programs available at most rehabilitation centers that address both addictive behaviors and mental health issues like OCD. Treatment typically begins with detoxification followed by therapy sessions, group meetings, and other activities.

If a person who struggles with addiction does not have an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), then their compulsions may manifest in other ways such as excessive shopping or gambling. The earlier you get help for either one, the better your chances at recovery will be. 

If you suffer from both addiction and OCD, then the best course of action would be to seek treatment for both. With professional treatment and proper care, there is hope.

If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorders, please give us a call. Innovo Detox offers the latest in evidence-based medical, psychiatric, and clinical care for those in need of detox and medical stabilization in Pennsylvania and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or a loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a detox, rehab, treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (717) 971-4973 or email our team at For more information on our company or services, please visit our website at