OCD, Addiction & Tolerance

OCD, Addiction & Tolerance

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In this episode, we are going to continue our series with OCD & Addiction with a specific focus on the concept of Tolerance. 

OCD is a mental health disorder in which people have recurring unwanted thoughts called obsessions, that produce anxiety and they engage in ritualistic behaviors called compulsions to neutralize their unwanted feelings.

Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain. It is considered both a complex brain disorder and a mental illness.

Tolerance the capacity to endure continued subjection to something, especially a drug, transplant, antigen, or environmental conditions, without adverse reaction. Tolerance plays a key role in how compulsions, and addictive behaviors, grow in our lives.  

So in this episode, we are going to discuss what is tolerance and its role in OCD and Addiction recovery. 




Welcome to this episode. My name is Matt Codde and I'm a licensed clinical social worker and the founder of restored minds. And so on this episode, I want to talk about OCD and addiction, and I want to talk about another concept called tolerance. And so, um, this is going to, you know, play directly off our last episode where we talk about the similarities of OCD and addiction, right? With those four components and how, um, when we're treating someone who are working with someone who has OCD, as well as struggles with some kind of dependency, right. Or chemical dependency, it's important that we obviously, um, you know, we need to be in a sober mind in order to effectively do the treatment. Right. Um, but I, but I want to talk about another concept that really plays into this. Right. And it's the idea of tolerance now, tolerance is really just our body's ability to, um, kind of acclimate.


Right. And, and ultimately what, when we build tolerance for something, what happens is, is that, um, the amount that we initially, you know, um, whatever it was that we did, right? So, so we're building tolerance to caffeine, right? If I drank a cup of coffee and I've never had caffeine before, well, my body's going to experience, you know, a rush, right. You know, in that first time we drank and coffee, right. It's going to experience really what it's doing is a certain high. Right. And then what happens is, is that my body body builds tolerance to that level. And so in order to achieve that same level of that same rush, I would need to drink more coffee, right. To get to that level. Right. And so, because my body builds tolerance, right. What we, you know, the word tolerate, right. You know, what we're able to kind of, um, you know, exist with, so to speak.


And when it comes to tolerance, tolerance plays a huge role in OCD and addiction as well. Right. And in the same way with coffee, right. You can interchange that with really anything that people get addicted to. Right. So things like, uh, risk tolerance, right. You know, and that's where, you know, people that become addicted to gambling, let's say, well, the risk tolerance seems to go up, which is why the problem gets more and more extreme because the losses are more severe, right. When someone, um, struggles with, with gambling addiction, because the risk tolerance goes up, right. In many ways with gambling addiction, that is actually what the addiction is too. Is that feeling of putting it on the line? Right. Um, it's not actually winning right. That, or, and, you know, in some cases it said dopamine of winning, but really that, that adrenaline rush of, you know, the risk, um, as well as things like, you know, any kind of chemicals, right.


So it started with alcohol, right. It started as, you know, one or two drinks, um, you know, to reach that same level or internal state then becomes three to four, becomes five to six and then becomes, you know, now we're switching to harder alcohols and it just kind of builds and builds and builds because we build tolerance to the event or the substance. Right. And in the same way, this happens with compulsive behaviors, right. That's why someone who struggles with, let's say contamination, OCD when they wash their hands. Right. Um, it may start off as just a quick little rinse, like a quick little extra rinse, uh, when those thoughts first happen. Right. What if I get contaminated? What if I get this disease? So quick, little rinse is able to satisfy that, but what happens is, is again, we built tolerance. So what started as a quick little rinse then becomes washing for a few more minutes, becomes washing with, you know, uh, maybe a heavier soap, right.


And then all of a sudden there's like hotter water until the person eventually right. Is washing for multiple hours or taking three hour showers or Washington, the point where their hands are, uh, you know, blistered. Right. Um, and cracked because they've just over washed them and overwashed them. And, and this is what happens with tolerance, right? Is that it, we, we keep in the reason tolerance exists is because we're trying to achieve an internal state, right. With some kind of usually external thing, whether it is something we're putting in our body or some kind of situation, right. Like washing your hands, uh, you know, gambling, shopping. Right. Um, you know, and even in sex and stuff like that, right. It, we're trying to shift our internal state. And in order to shift our internal state, we use these, these items, right. Are these, these situations, these scenarios, um, and what happens is, is that in order to shift our state to the level that we want it, we just have to use more and more and more and more, and that's how tolerance essentially develops.


And the problem is, is that it builds to the point where it becomes unsustainable, right. And, and it becomes unmanageable and it ultimately takes over. And that's what happens with OCD. That's also what happens with addiction and the generally speaking, it, it, when it gets to the point where it's unmanageable is when people are finally seeking help. And so, um, I didn't want it to just talk about, to, to piggyback off the last episode, when we talk about the similarities of OCD and addiction. One of the concepts that I forgot to talk about was the idea of tolerance and how that works with both and, and realizing that if you're chasing that internal shift and you're chasing it in the short term, what will happen is whatever you use to get that shift. Right. So, and when I talk about shift, you know, I'm talking about shifting our internal state, right.


So if we are feeling depressed and we want to feel good immediately, well, yeah, when there are things we can do, that might cause that shift to happen temporarily. Right. The problem is, is that if we don't actually learn to navigate and emotionally regulate ourselves, and we're using something to do that, then it could be anything, it could be shopping, right. It could be, you know, going on online dating sites and just talking with people, you know, I mean, how many people, you know, I think about with social media, even, right? How many people post stuff and are just looking for those likes, right. Those subscribes, right. Um, you know, whatever it is as follows because those, those caused that internal validation to happen. And this is how people get addicted to things like social media. Right. You know, because if you don't feel good about yourself, right.


And you're, you're wanting that external validation to feel good internally, this is a really good example. So let's just use it when I post a post online, let's say, it's funny. And let's say 10 people comment and like it, and tell me, I'm funny. That makes me feel good. Right. And that shift happens very, very quickly. We noticed the shift, right. It feels good. Right. That dopamine had happens in our brain. And then what happens is, is that then 10 is not enough though. Right. So the next plus we have, it needs to be funny. And, you know, cause we have that baseline now. Right. Let's say it took 10 likes for us to feel validated what we do, our next posts. And only nine people like it. It's like, Oh man, you know, I failed. Right. And you know, and, and we start to get down on ourselves and then, but then once we get 15, then it's like, okay, now that's good.


Right. And then we just, it grows and grows and it grows. And then my posts have to be more extreme to get more likes and more, you know, or whatever. And all of a sudden you're doing things you never realized you'd ever do because you're chasing that internal shift. Right. And that really is what most addiction, when it comes down to is about it's about that internal shift. Right. And the same with OCD, right? The difference with those cities is that we get locked in that loop and it just spirals out of control. Um, and in with that said, when we build tolerance to something, what happens is that we're always going to have to do more right. To get that internal shift and eventually that's going to become unmanageable. And that's why it's obviously the way these things work in the short term. Right.


It's, it's important to acknowledge that, right. Compulsion's work in the short-term or else we wouldn't do them. Right. Um, drugs, or, you know, other things that we, that people use that become addicted to, right. They work to achieve whatever you wanted them to achieve in the short term, but over the longterm, they're a terrible solution for the most part. Right. And what happens is when you're choosing your short-term comfort over your long-term, well-being, it's going to go into, into a direction that's going to become unmanageable. And that's why, you know, it restored minds, right. It's all about, you know, we always promote the idea of choosing our long-term health over our short-term comfort. Right. And when you can do that consistently, right. You can learn to navigate the disruptions, right. The short-term uncomfortable feelings and navigate them in healthy ways that are going to align with your long-term goals.


So hopefully, hopefully that makes sense. And hopefully that, um, you kind of see how tolerance works and when it comes to addiction and OCD and, um, and why it's so important that we understand that because if we understand how tolerance works, we can start to begin to see the behaviors that we're doing, that we're building tolerance to that are ultimately not going to serve us in the longterm. Um, and so yeah, with that said, um, that's really kind of what I wanted to cover with the whole idea of OCD, addiction, and tolerance. Um, if you found this helpful, if you're something you struggle with, that you're dealing with OCD, anxiety and psychological stress, you know, we have resources [email protected] In fact, there's some links right down in the notes here, um, that will direct you over to free downloads, uh, meditation, as well as, uh, we have a webinar, right.


That we run. Um, it has as well as our, um, other resources like our live zoom calls that we do with our community and, um, other premium trainings. So thank you so much for taking the time to hang out with us today. I hope you found this helpful. Also, we really appreciate your support by liking subscribing and sharing and commenting. Let us know if there's anything, any kind of, uh, episodes you want us to create in the future that might help you. And with that said, hope you guys have a wonderful week and I'll see you in the next episode,


Take care.

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