Dr. Simpson explains the relationship between addiction and obsessive compulsive disorder/OCD.
This is an area of hot research. There’s an idea in the field that, we think of obsessive compulsive disorder as a compulsion and we think of addictions as impulsivity. But there’s a new model of addictions which says it starts with you impulsively taking a substance, but then, as you take the substance, in fact, you lose the ability to control the ability to take it anymore, and that addiction becomes a compulsion. Do you see what I’m. . .
So one of the interesting things is what is that interaction between the compulsion of an addiction and the compulsion of an OCD? Likewise, many people who are addicted will talk about having intrusive urges; they have to have that substance. How different is that from the OCD patient who has an intrusive urge to do a ritual?
The one thing I would say seems to me quite different though. I mean, so in that sense there’s a relationship between addiction and the compulsions of OCD, and maybe even a relationship at the level of the brain.
What’s really quite different though about OCD are the obsessions, the intrusive thoughts that generate fear, anxiety, and distress. And people often have a feared consequence, “If I don’t do that ritual, something terrible is going to happen.”
About Dr. Simpson, M.D., Ph.D.:
Helen Blair Simpson, M.D., Ph.D., an expert on obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), is an associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, New York City, where she directs the Anxiety Disorders Clinic and OCD Research Program at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. She was a member of the work group that developed the first “Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Patients With OCD” for the American Psychiatric Association.
Through her research, Dr. Simpson is working to trace the brain circuits believed to play a major role in the development of obsessions and compulsions, and she has developed novel approaches to treatment. Her research has been supported by a NARSAD Young Investigator grant.