Is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder an Addiction?

Obsessive compulsive disorder is complex, it can cause distress to those who experience, and symptoms can range from mild to a complete disruption of life for some people. There are many people who think that OCD is much like an addiction. The truth is, we see a lot of emotional habits and OCD tendencies in those suffering from addiction and vise versa. No one really know whether the chicken or the egg came first in these situations and each person is unique, so there’s no telling.

But, the fact is that addictions and compulsions are difference. Addiction is certainly a term that has a broad meaning and really looks more at a process. The process we’re talking about is the way in which a person becomes dependent on a substance or behavior to cope with the life’s stresses. The body’s urge and need to fulfill that behavior or seek that substance takes over and the individual will do many things they would normally not do to obtain whatever it is they are addicted to, despite facing negative consequences.

While addiction encompasses a broad meaning, compulsion leans on the side of a narrow term. Compulsions encompass just a small part of the addictive process but a huge part of OCD. Here’s a look at some the main differences between the two.

Sense of Reality

If you take a closer look at the two, you’ll notice an interesting difference. To the outside world, a person with an addiction behaves in a way that we believe is nonsensical, while they are not aware of that fact or that reality. A person with a compulsion may be aware and quite disturbed by the way they behave regarding compulsions.

Pleasure and Pain

Have you noticed that people who are suffering from OCD behave in a way that is not giving them pleasure? They are often distraught with the reality they face, whatever the compulsion may be. While those who are facing addiction, are ultimately, seeking pleasure. Whether or not they are still able to achieve or derive joy and pleasure from the substance or behavior they’re addicted to, is neither here nor there as the reality is that it’s a joy seeking behavior.

Hartney, E. "The Difference Between an Addiction and a Compulsion". Very Well Mind. (website). 2018
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  • i have a friend who has ocd tendencies. she says cleaning brings her peace..minimized her anxiety. it's not causing her negative consequences though... so i don't see it as an issue... her house is super clean :) i know some that have ocd experience negative issues, like begin late for work due to behaviors...or relationship issues....

    good topic and information.
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