Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) affects millions of Americans in their daily lives. Additionally, while OCD is treatable, many people with OCD and other anxiety disorders use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate their symptoms. Fortunately, at Phoenix Rising Recovery we treat co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders, including offering quality care at the OCD Residential Treatment Centers in California.
What is OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder featuring unwanted thoughts and repetitive behaviors. In fact, you feel compelled to perform these behaviors, with no control over them. Undoubtedly, obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors are intense and interfere with daily life.
Most people with or without OCD experience unwanted thoughts or engage in repetitive behaviors. To further add, those with OCD struggle to move on from these thoughts and behaviors. Last but not least, people with OCD spend significant amounts of time and energy attempting to control their unwanted thoughts and compulsive behaviors.
Many people with OCD realize their compulsive behaviors are irrational, yet they cannot seem to stop without significant distress. Similarly, they also realize their obsessive thoughts are not realistic. Despite this awareness, they struggle to stop thinking about them. Paradoxically, the more people with OCD attempt to control their obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, the stronger these symptoms become. Therefore, because of this, it is imperative to seek treatment. A great suggestion is to attend an OCD Residential Treatment Center to stop the cycle of OCD.
Anxiety disorders, which include OCD, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorders, and social anxiety, are the most common mental illness in the United States. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders “[affect] 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.” In addition, the ADAA states that only 36.9% of people with any type of anxiety disorder receive treatment. About a third of all people with any type of anxiety disorder also have depression.
Regarding OCD, the ADAA shares the following statistics:
- OCD affects about 1.0% of US adults or about 2.2 million people
- Men and women are equally affected by OCD
- The average age of onset of OCD symptoms is 19 years-old
- About 25% of people with OCD had symptoms by age 14
- One-third of adults with OCD began experiencing symptoms during childhood
While obsessive-compulsive disorder is not as common as other anxiety disorders, many with OCD experience shame about their symptoms and do not seek treatment. Furthermore, without treatment, those who suffer from the disorder have a diminished quality of life. Lastly, some seek relief by abusing drugs and alcohol.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of OCD?
The signs and symptoms of OCD are marked by obsessions and compulsions. To add, while most people with OCD have both, some only experience either obsessions or compulsions. Generally, however, obsessions and compulsions are related, as the compulsive behaviors are meant to end the distressing obsessive thoughts.
OCD varies in severity, some people experience mild symptoms while others are unable to complete basic acts of daily living due to intense symptoms. Symptoms can flare up during times of significant stress or life changes. Symptoms can worsen even during positive life changes, like getting married, attending college, or having children. In addition, most people with OCD will have varied symptoms throughout their lifetime.
What are Obsessions in OCD?
Obsessions in OCD are repetitive involuntary thoughts, images, or impulses that you cannot stop. Moreover, these thoughts, images, and impulses are unwanted, and you aren’t trying to have them. Unfortunately, these obsessive thoughts are unsettling and distracting as well.
Examples of obsessions in OCD include:
- Fear of being contaminated by germs and dirt or getting others sick
- Fear of losing control and hurting yourself or others
- Invasive sexually explicit or violent thoughts and images
- Excessive attention to religious or moral ideas
- Fear of losing or not having what you need
- Order and symmetry—or the idea that everything must be perfect
- Superstitions and excessive attention to something considered lucky or unlucky
What are Compulsions in OCD?
Compulsions are behaviors or rituals that you are repeatedly driven to act on. To explain it another way, these behaviors are performed to make the obsessions go away. For example, someone with obsessions about contamination might develop extensive cleaning rituals.
However, the relief from performing these behaviors never lasts. In fact, the obsessions often come back even stronger. After that, compulsions then cause anxiety because they become more time-consuming and urgent. OCD then creates a cycle, as obsessions and compulsions only become more intense.
Examples of compulsions in OCD include:
- Excessively double-checking things such as locks, appliances, and switches
- Constantly checking in on loved ones to make sure they are okay
- Tapping, counting, repeating certain words and phrases, or performing other repetitive behaviors to reduce anxiety
- Spending an exaggerated amount of time washing, cleaning, or putting things in order
- Excessive praying or taking part in rituals triggered by religious fear
- Trouble getting rid of junk, like old newspapers or empty food containers
What Causes OCD?
The causes of OCD are not completely understood at this time. However, there are several theories about the cause of OCD including:
- Compulsions as learned behaviors that become repetitive and habitual when associated with relief from anxiety
- Chemical, structural, and functional abnormalities in the brain contribute to OCD
- Distorted beliefs which strengthen and maintain symptoms related to OCD
Often, OCD is not caused by one factor, but several factors interact to trigger the development of OCD. Underlying causes are also influenced by stressful life events, hormonal changes, and personality traits. Nevertheless, OCD inpatient treatment can help those struggling with severe OCD and co-occurring substance use disorders.
OCD Residential Treatment Centers California
OCD can commonly co-occur with a substance use disorder. Without a doubt, the effects of drugs and alcohol can seem to temporarily relieve symptoms of OCD. However, symptoms rebound and can become even worse after the effects of drugs and alcohol wear off. Thus, if you self-medicate OCD with substances, you can easily become caught up in the cycle of addiction.
At Phoenix Rising Recovery, we treat OCD and co-occurring substance abuse at our residential treatment centers in Southern California. Individuals with OCD and a substance use disorder need OCD inpatient treatment for a dual diagnosis to deal with both issues at the same time.
Dual diagnosis treatment of OCD and substance abuse requires a multifaceted approach, including:
Psychotherapy is necessary to treat OCD, and the following therapeutic modalities are effective at treating OCD:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is one of the most common therapies available for several mental health disorders. During CBT, you learn how to challenge irrational thoughts to change your behaviors.
- Exposure Response Therapy (ERP): ERP exposes you to the situations that trigger your obsessive thoughts. By learning new coping mechanisms while triggered, you can manage your obsessions and compulsions better.
Psychiatric medications can restore chemical imbalances in your brain believed to cause symptoms of OCD. Low serotonin levels are associated with a lack of focus, trouble sleeping, and anxiety. Anti-depressants that increase serotonin levels treat OCD.
FDA-approved medications for OCD include:
Holistic treatment can teach you techniques to manage anxiety and let go of obsessive thoughts. You can often find yourself trapped in endless cycles of thoughts with OCD. Holistic approaches help get you out of your own head and focus on being “in the moment.”
Common holistic approaches that help OCD include:
- Deep breathing
- Yoga and exercise
- Wilderness therapy
OCD Inpatient Treatment in Palm Desert, CA
If you or your loved one suffer from OCD and a co-occurring substance use disorder, Phoenix Rising Recovery of Palm Desert, California can help. We offer dual diagnosis treatment for OCD and other anxiety disorders that commonly co-occur with substance abuse. Visit our admissions page today to rise above your OCD symptoms into a happier and healthier life.