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OCD & Alcohol

answered 09:04 AM EST, Wed November 16, 2011
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My wife has OCD. She done CBT and is on antidepressants. She had always told me that she didn’t like to drink alcohol because it made her OCD symptoms much worse. She had been going through an OCD remission period for the last while and she started to enjoy wine with dinner. I was happy that she could enjoy such a normal thing for the first time.

Now she is starting to drink at least a couple and often a few glasses of wine each evening and she says it really helps her with her OCD which has returned more strongly. From what I can see, this is not the case and in the morning after drinking her ordering and hand washing is much more severe and if she has had a lot of wine the night before then things seem even worse.

I am not sure what to believe. I am worried she is developing an alcohol problem but if she says it helps her then who am I to take away what she needs to make it through the day, especially considering how much she has suffered and struggled with this disease for years. Is it ever a case that alcohol is a useful tool for those with OCD?

Loren Gelberg-Goff Says...

OCD is a very stressful and frustrating disorder for both the sufferer and those in her life.  Alcohol can have some positive effects initially, but as you are already discovering, it is NOT a cure, and certainly presents additional problems as well.  Because OCD is both a neurolgical and psychological problem there are a number of other ways to treat it more effectively.  The compulsive behaviors that one has started out serving a purpose and has since gotten "out of control".  The purpose of any of our defenses is to keep us safe and feeling in control.  Unfortunately a shift occurs and a behavior or behaviors which initially made someone feel good now does just the opposite. 

I strongly recommend therapy which would include hypnotherapy to get to the root of the issues that trigger the compulsive behaviors.  Additionally, neurofeedback is also very helpful in dissolving the neurological connection to the compulsive behaviors.  You might also consider EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) which has been shown to be helpful in dealing with many of the OCD issues.  Some mindfulness based therapy including some meditation to reduce stress and tension would also be very helpful for your wife. 

Once again, alcohol, like any other drug is simply a temporary escape from one's pain, but brings with it a host of other issues that then become distractions from the real problem so the negative cycle continues with no cure or effective treatment being provided.  Please contact me should you have any further questions or want more details about the specific therapies I recommend.  All the best, Loren 

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Page last updated Nov 16, 2011

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