OCD Triggered by Substances
Having an anxiety disorder like OCD increases a person’s likelihood of developing a substance abuse disorder, and vice versa. However, substance-induced anxiety disorders are much rarer than comorbid anxiety and substance use disorders. About 0.2 percent of comorbid cases involve OCD or another anxiety disorder caused by the substance, rather than the addiction incited by the anxiety disorder.
Medical research identifies some substances that can trigger obsessive-compulsive disorder. These are:
- Other stimulants
The DSM-5 also includes “other substance-induced obsessive-compulsive disorder” and “unknown substance-induced obsessive-compulsive disorder” in its listings, to aid therapists and medical professionals in helping people who seem to have OCD triggered by a substance or addiction.
In some rare but documented cases, schizophrenic patients treated with risperidone began to display obsessive-compulsive behaviors, although the medication was otherwise effective in treating the original condition. OCD typically showed up when the patient took over 3 milligrams per day, and when the patient was weaned to a lower dose, the symptoms of OCD went away.
Best Practices to Treat OCD and Substance Abuse Together
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the leading recommended treatment for people who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, and this can include Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy, sometimes combined with medications. When a person suffers both OCD and a substance use disorder, doctors tend to be especially wary of the type and quantity of medication the patient takes, but it is not unusual for people with both OCD and an addiction to temporarily take antidepressants or medications to treat anxiety. These medications can help balance brain chemistry, which can both reduce cravings for drugs and lessen intrusive thoughts and actions.
These medications include:
- Clomipramine: a tricyclic antidepressant
- Fluoxetine: an antidepressant under the brand name Prozac
- Fluvoxamine: an anti-anxiety medication
Sertraline: an antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication
In some people with OCD, antipsychotics like Risperdal have been shown to ease symptoms, especially when they have reached a stage of delusion. This medication can also treat chemical-induced psychosis from drugs or alcohol abuse. However, successful long-term treatment with antipsychotics for these conditions is rare.
For both obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance use disorders, especially when these conditions are comorbid, the best treatment involves individual therapy and group support. A good therapist can help the client begin to unlearn old habits and relearn healthier behaviors and ways of thinking. Group therapy and social support networks can help the client feel less isolated, and also develop better social skills and emotional support networks to reduce anxiety. Exercise, healthy eating, and social activities are good habits to develop and foster. Most therapists and support groups will help people suffering comorbid OCD and alcohol or drug addiction to develop these habits, as well as better methods of coping with underlying issues.