Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Is OCD associated with drug addiction?"

ZocdocAnswersIs OCD associated with drug addiction?


I'm a middle aged man with obsessive compulsive disorder, and I just sustained a bad injury that I'm going to need pain medication for. Is it true that people with OCD are more likely to abuse drugs? I want to be very careful about what kind of painkiller I use if I'm prone to addiction.


There is evidence that people with obsessive compulsive disorder also have higher rates of drug addiction then the general population; in fact some estimate that up to 30% of people with obsessive compulsive disorder have had a substance abuse problem at some point in their lives. This is not entirely surprising, since anxiety disorders are also much more common in those with obsessive compulsive disorder, and the use of drugs may be seen in some patients as an attempt to regulate anxiety. Therefore, those with obsessive compulsive disorder obviously need to be careful when taking any controlled substances, as well as alcohol, tobacco, and similar drugs. At the same time, this fact needs to be balanced against other medical needs. Those who have just had serious injuries generally do require pain medications to relieve the pain. The subject of pain medications prescribed and taken for legitimate pain has also been well studies, and there is no evidence that taking pain medication for a short while as prescribed puts you at risk for addiction to that medication. In fact, you should avoid being in pain because this may increase your anxiety to unmanageable levels. You should, however, keep your psychiatrist in the loop and let them know what you have been prescribed and what is going on with your injury.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.