Disorders and imbalances can make it harder to cope with everyday life. From embarrassment to depression, these conditions can fuel negative feelings and leave people searching for ways to fill in the gaps. Unfortunately, many individuals turn to drugs for respite. Tourette’s Syndrome (TS) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are two maladies in particular that may be linked to substance dependency.
TS is a neurological disorder characterized by quick, involuntary movements and noises. These spontaneous actions (or “tics”) generally begin affecting individuals somewhere between the age of 2 and 21. The exact number of affected individuals is unknown, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that around 0.3% of children are afflicted. Although not as common as some other diagnoses, you certainly aren’t alone.
The first record of TS is from 1825: a noblewoman by the name of Marquise de Dampierre. She made ripples during high society events when she yelled obscenities, as she suffered from coprolalia. Many other people also experience this unfortunate symptom, and it is perhaps the most well-known trait of the disorder in modern times.
Although the symptoms can drastically change the lifestyle of sufferers, the disorder is not degenerative. Most people with mild and moderate TS can live long and fulfilling lives, especially with routine therapy and certain medications. Throughout history, many have carved out successful careers – Mozart being a wonderful example of such potential. Dealing with TS can seem hard, but it can certainly be accomplished.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Commonly known as OCD, this condition is characterized by recurring thoughts and behaviors. These obsessions and compulsions, respectively, are entirely uncontrollable for those who have the disease. Actions like touching doorknobs, and washing hands can be completed hundreds of times per day, leaving the individual feeling drained and stressed. Other symptoms often include a fear of germs, needing to have things arranged in order, and unwanted forbidden thoughts. Around 2.5% of the population is afflicted, making it rather common as far as mental diseases go. That means that there are people out there who understand exactly what you’re going through.
OCD has a longer documented history than TS, although it’s likely simply due to misunderstandings and incorrect diagnoses. One of the oldest cases was Martin Luther in the early 1500s. He led the Protestant Reformation in Europe despite his condition. It’s also generally accepted that Charles Darwin and Katherine Hepburn were affected by the disorder. Life with these conditions doesn’t have to mean limits.
Like TS, there is no cure for OCD. Sufferers can take steps to manage the symptoms, such as cognitive therapy and prescription medication. In extreme cases, individuals may be housebound due to fear or the need to repeat actions over and over. This can change with dedication and proper treatment, however, as sufferers tend to respond well to therapy.
Many people afflicted with one of these disorders are at a greatly increased risk to be diagnosed with the other. The two conditions are fueled by uncontrollable urges and result from physiological imbalances that produce rather similar behaviors, making them an unfortunate duo in the mental health world.
OCD, Tourette’s, And Addiction Don’t Have To Be Connected
One of the hardest things to deal with about either of these conditions is an embarrassment and social stigma. It’s easy for the afflicted to feel isolated and ashamed, especially when these conditions are not often discussed. Anyone dealing with such a disorder should never have to hide the condition – especially since raising awareness is the best way to combat ignorance.
To lead a more productive and comfortable life, sufferers can do several things to ease their own strain. Meditation, for example, may help you gain more control over thoughts and reduce some of the stress that our busy lives create.
Keeping tics or compulsions in check in public is a big concern too. Simple things like wearing medical identification or keeping supplies handy could smooth over some situations. For spitting tics, for example, a simple handkerchief allows you to be more discreet. Although they’re nothing to be ashamed of, you may be able to enjoy yourself more if you’re less concerned with your involuntary thoughts or behaviors and more focused on the situation at hand.
Sadly, some people cannot deal with the stress of these disorders on their own. As with many mental conditions, it’s easy to turn to drugs or alcohol. Whether the symptoms are actually reduced or you simply care less is up for debate, but either way, it’s a dangerous habit—for many reasons.
The Dangers Of Drugs And Alcohol
Anytime someone abuses one of these substances, there can be deadly consequences. Everything from slurred speech to powerful hallucinations is possible, depending on the drug of choice. Brain damage, seizures, heart disease, and tooth loss are just a few of the long-term effects you’ll also face. For those living with TS or OCD, however, the decision can be even more impactful.
Drinking and using drugs is known to alter your mental state. Any symptoms you present while sober are likely to be exacerbated by the intake of these substances. If you have obsessive thoughts, for example, your entire focus may be unwillingly shifted to them while you’re under the influence instead of them being present but at the back of your mind. Likewise, tics can become much stronger and harder to resist since your body will rely more on impulse than controlled thought.
The nature of these disorders may also place individuals more at risk for dependency. Addiction is categorized by the urge to use substances or participate in actions, whether good or bad. Fundamentally, it works in the same way as TS or OCD – although it begins with a choice, and the desires are inherently easier to combat.
If you’re afflicted by one of these mental disorders, your brain is already steered by yearnings and involuntary thoughts. Giving it something else to desire could be dangerous, especially considering that you may not be able to resist.
It’s Not Too Late For Assistance
Doctors have a better handle on mental disorders and their side effects than ever before. If your condition has pushed you to abuse alcohol or drugs, you don’t have to continue. At The Dunes East Hampton, we specialize in cultivating the perfect environment to break addictions.
We offer residential programs, outpatient services, aftercare, and even interventions. Professionalism and dedication push us forward, and the fact that we have over 350 years of combined sobriety experience means that we know what you need to recover your life, no matter what pushed you toward substance abuse. If you want a second chance, you want The Dunes East Hampton.
Mental disorders are just one of the many causes of addiction. If you or a loved one suffers from addiction, get help today!