Instead of a scripture from our standard works, today we will be looking at a quotation from a talk given in April 2006 by President James E. Faust entitled, “A Royal Priesthood.”

In his talk, he is speaking to priesthood holders and states, 

“I counsel all of you brethren to avoid every kind of addiction. At this time Satan and his followers are enslaving some of our choicest young people through addiction to alcohol, all kinds of drugs, pornography, tobacco, gambling, and other compulsive disorders.”

Is he talking about us??

At first read, this is a little bit sad for those of us with obsessive compulsive disorder. I mean, President Faust uses the last two words of the three that encompass the entire name of our mental health issue. It feels a hard pill to swallow.

But have you ever thought of OCD being like an addiction? (Now, don’t get me wrong: I am totally an advocate of OCD being a brain disorder and not something caused by Satan. Also, I believe that some people can be more prone to become alcoholics, addicted to tobacco, etc. than others based on physiological factors. I think the Doctrine and Covenants 89 addresses this idea fairly well with the whole “adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints” bit in verse 3).

A facade to hide behind

But back to the issue at hand: do you think that OCD can be comparable to an addiction? When I was having my rough patch at the end of last year and beginning of this year, I would sometimes think that I used the OCD to hide from my real life. In a sick way, it was almost like a security blanket that protected me from having to be “me.” I could hide behind the OCD and use that as an excuse for whatever I needed or wanted. It was familiar and comfortable in a way that an abusive relationship is to the abused. Sometimes facing the unknown appears more frightening than living in an awful situation. At least you know what you are dealing with, even if it is the pits.

Difficult to overcome

In this way, at least for me, I can see how OCD is similar to an addiction. It is definitely hard to give up the compulsions, and often the obsessions prove impossible to rid from your mind. Maybe you didn’t intend to develop OCD or even try to do so in the way that one could say an alcoholic had to take the first drink or a gambler roll their first dice, but that doesn’t mean it can’t share similar characteristics to other addictions.

I guess the depressing bit about OCD being considered an “addiction” in this context is that it isn’t something that originates outside of yourself like drugs, alcohol, pornography, tobacco, or gambling. The OCD feels so deeply to be a part of you. Sure, maybe an unfamiliar and very mean and demanding part of you, but it is still part of who you are. Maybe this is why so many people with OCD consider themselves to be sinful or polluted.

But we need to remember that just like those other addictions, with the proper help, OCD can be fought. It doesn’t have to always “enslave” us, as President Faust says. We can free ourselves from it, even if its a victory we have to keep regaining every day for the rest of our lives.

Have you ever thought of OCD as an addiction? Why or why not?