Why Shouldn’t Alcohol Be Used for Muting Intrusive Thoughts Associated With OCD?

When an individual is living with untreated obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), their intrusive thoughts and compulsive routines and rituals can be quite troubling. To deal with those symptoms, many individuals self-medicate by drinking alcohol daily. While this reaction can be understandable, alcohol may not be the best way to address these symptoms.

Choosing addiction and mental health treatment with 12 South Recovery can help individuals learn more about OCD and ways to manage it. Using a variety of therapies, individuals can learn how to get beyond these disturbing symptoms without depending on alcohol. Ultimately, by seeking help through a reputable source, those with OCD can begin to live a much better quality of life. 

What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

As stated by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), OCD is a prevalent mental health condition that affects individuals worldwide. The condition has been known to affect children, adolescents, and adults. OCD tends to be a chronic condition that often occurs by the age of 19. However, it is not uncommon for individuals to get diagnosed after the age of 35. There may be a variety of causes of OCD, including temperament, genetics, and environmental triggers such as childhood trauma and neglect.

Depending on the severity of one’s condition, one may feel intense urges to repeat certain rituals. This can also be referred to as compulsive behavior. An individual may be diagnosed with OCD if they spend more than one hour a day engaging in compulsive behaviors or obsessions. Symptoms of OCD may include:

  • Fear of germs
  • Unwanted taboo thoughts
  • Thoughts of self-harm
  • Keeping things in perfect order
  • Excessive handwashing
  • Repeatedly checking on things
  • Counting compulsively

The Challenges of Living With Intrusive Thoughts

The negative effects of OCD can be extremely detrimental to an individual’s lifestyle. Intrusive thoughts, obsessions, and compulsions can be very distracting. The symptoms of OCD can weigh on an individual’s relationships due to time spent on rituals. Symptoms can affect an individual’s ability to function in the workplace as well. Furthermore, intrusive thoughts can also make it tough for an individual to concentrate in an academic setting. An individual may see their grades slip due to a lack of motivation and a decreased attention span.

The Link Between Intrusive Thoughts and Alcoholism

According to the Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, unhealthy alcohol use is commonly linked with the symptoms of OCD. Alcohol misuse or abuse occurs in the lives of those with OCD with a prevalence that is greater than in the general population. One of the reasons for this is that the symptoms of OCD cause anxiety and distress, which is hard to tolerate. Those experiencing OCD symptoms may turn to alcohol to relieve that distress. Additionally, many individuals try to numb their intrusive thoughts and sleep better by drinking alcohol. Unfortunately, consuming alcoholic beverages can worsen an individual’s physical health and make it even more difficult to manage the effects of OCD.

What Areas of Life Can Be Affected by Intrusive Thoughts?

The effects of OCD can be very stressful for an individual to live with. It is common for someone to lose sleep due to repetitive racing thoughts and endless rituals. Paranoid thoughts and anxiety can be related to constantly feeling the need to check if the house doors are locked, appliances are shut off, and electronics are unplugged. One may feel excessively worried due to the fear of a break-in, house fires, or potential harm of any kind while at rest.

According to the aforementioned journal article, many individuals choose to self-medicate the effects of OCD by consuming alcoholic beverages in an attempt to drown out these intrusive thoughts. These obsessions can be a repetitive line of thinking, intense urges, or frequent unwanted images in one’s head that cause stress in an individual’s life. For example, an individual may have unwanted thoughts that involve sex, religion, or self-harm.

Treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder With 12 South Recovery

Choosing treatment with 12 South Recovery can significantly improve an individual’s quality of life. Our facility offers a variety of effective, evidence-based treatments for OCD. These include cognitive therapy, specialized therapy groups, and eye movement and desensitization therapy (EMDR). We evaluate and address the possible role of trauma and provide an individualized plan to facilitate lasting changes.

What’s more, we offer interventions to help an individual manage co-existing mental health conditions that commonly accompany OCD. Choosing to treat co-existing mental health conditions can relieve one’s OCD and relieve an individual’s urge to drink alcohol. It can be helpful to explore 12 South Recovery’s partial hospitalization program (PHP) and residential or outpatient treatment programs. These can be beneficial routes to take if one is looking for a more intensive path moving forward. After treatment ends, our alumni program offers continuing support to ensure ongoing healing and recovery.

At 12 South Recovery, we are a leader in Orange County mental health treatment. Our mental health care team understands that OCD is often linked with alcohol abuse. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a cognitive ailment impacting behavior, personality, and priorities. Unfortunately, this disorder can make OCD much worse. Our emphasis on personalized care ensures that every patient receives a treatment plan tailored to their unique personality, history, and co-occurring conditions. If you or a loved one are facing challenges managing your mental health, call 12 South Recovery at (888) 830-8374 to learn more. We can share with you how our treatment programs and services can help you recover from addiction and any mental health concerns you may have. 

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