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Obsession vs Addiction: Is There a Difference?

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    Obsession vs Addiction: Is There a Difference?

    You know that something is amiss with yourself or your loved one, but you’re not sure if it is obsession or addiction. Is treatment for addiction the right way to go, or is it just bad obsessive habits that need to be untangled by a behavioral doctor? It is important to understand the differences between obsession vs addiction, recognizing the signs of each, and knowing when to get help so that you can get the best possible care for yourself or your loved one.

    Obsession vs Addiction: Defining Obsession

    According to the American Psychiatric Association, Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which time people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions). The repetitive behaviors, such as hand washing, checking on things or cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions.

    A diagnosis of OCD requires the following:

    • Compulsions or time spent on the obsession that is time-consuming (more than one hour a day)
    • Causing major distress
    • Impair work, social or other important functions

    Knowing the Signs of Obsession

    There are many different types of obsession, including intrusive thoughts, compulsions, constant checking, fear of contamination or germs, and hoarding. Some of the signs of obsession include:

    • Aggressive impulses
    • Arranging items to face a certain way
    • Constant checking
    • Constantly checking the stove or door locks
    • Constant counting
    • Fear of contamination
    • Images of hurting someone you love
    • Persistent sexual thoughts
    • Repeated unwanted ideas
    • Repeatedly washing your hands
    • The repeated cleaning of one or more items
    • Thoughts that you might be harmed
    • Thoughts that you might cause others harm

    Obsession vs Addiction: Defining Addiction

    The definition of addiction, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, is that addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences. Prevention efforts and treatment approaches for addiction are generally as successful as those for other chronic diseases.

    Addiction is diagnosed by visiting a medical professional. According to Medical News Today, the doctor will ask questions about frequency of use, impairment of daily living, and whether the use of a substance is increasing and how the pattern of use is impacting important social, occupational, educational or other functional areas. They will also ask about withdrawal symptoms which may have occurred at times when the person attempted to decrease or stop use.

    Knowing the Signs of Addiction

    The signs of addiction include:

    • Inability to stop or slow use
    • Experiencing negative consequences such as loss of a job, divorce, fractured family relationships, financial issues, and more
    • Hiding use or denial about use
    • Having multiple prescriptions by multiple doctors at multiple pharmacies
    • Feeling sick if it’s been a long period of time since the last dose
    • Frequently hungover
    • Sleeping more or less than normal
    • Poor hygiene and unkempt appearance
    • Creative abusive or volatile situations
    • Increased anxiety or paranoia
    • Marked weight loss or weight gain
    • Experiencing cravings
    • Spending a large amount of time using, acquiring, or thinking about substances
    • Loved ones expressing concern
    • Increased irritability and agitation

    When to Get Help for Obsession and Addiction

    While obsession and addiction seem very similar, they are quite different in how they need to be treated. Help is required for both disorders as soon as possible, as the sooner it is treated the better the chances of long-term recovery can be.

    In some cases, obsession and addiction can occur at the same time. Some individuals may experience compulsive rituals when it comes to their drug or alcohol use, such as preferring a certain cup or performing a routine before drug use. In this case, a dual diagnosis would be required to treat both obsession and addiction.

    About Seasons in Malibu

    Obsession and addiction are both debilitating disorders that can severely affect everyday life. Luckily, they are both treatable and a happy, healthy life is possible in recovery.

    Treatment at Seasons in Malibu is systemic, integrative and client-centered. Our philosophy is grounded in the understanding that in order for the client to heal, the entire system needs the opportunity to heal along with them. The pressure to “fix” the client can become overwhelming and unrealistic if we do not examine the underlying issues, dynamics and environmental influences that might be contributing to substance abuse or ongoing mental health issues. Whenever practical, we try to include close loved ones in sessions and in the entire process of recovering from addiction and/or addressing mental health issues.

    It is a priority for us that our life-changing drug and alcohol treatment be available to the people who need it. We are fully familiar with how much strength and courage it takes to pick up the phone and ask for help. Our counselors are invested in your well-being and are ready around-the-clock to guide you or a trusted friend or family member through the initial steps of overcoming drug or alcohol addiction.

    With our superior team of clinicians, we are able to succinctly pinpoint those areas of focus which will give the client the most advanced opportunity for success. Our approach towards healing is collaborative, comprehensive and committed.

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