Eating Disorders and Alcohol Abuse
Eating disorders and alcohol abuse go together. They are often co-occurring disorders that must be treated at the same time for a full recovery. With eating disorders having the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, combining alcohol with them increases the risk of death. Most people think that people with an eating disorder wouldn’t drink alcohol because of the high caloric value, but for some sufferers using alcohol helps them cope with their eating disorder. People struggling with eating disorders and a substance use disorder tend to partake in more severe forms of eating disorder behaviors such as laxative abuse and extreme food restriction.
Drunkorexia is a slang term used to describe the use of alcohol and altered eating behaviors. It is defined as altering eating behaviors to either offset for planned caloric intake from alcohol or to increase or speed up the effects of alcohol.
Drunkorexia is characterized by three key factors:
- Skipping meals in order to save calories or compensate for an increased caloric intake from the alcohol.
- Excessive exercise in order to compensate for calories consumed from drinking.
- Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol in order to become sick and purge previously consumed food.
Some anorexics will use alcohol to help them cope with the feelings they have around eating. They will abuse alcohol to suppress their appetites and cause them to vomit. It is important to note that anorexics who primarily restrict their food, drinking alcohol is less common. On the other side, 22.9% of individuals with bulimia meet the criteria for alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse links more closely with bulimia but that doesn’t necessarily mean that because someone has one type of eating disorder that they are dealing with alcohol or other substance abuse as well.
All behavior is motivated by emotions and what we get out of it. The purpose of all addictive behavior is to obtain pleasure, release tension, and seek comfort. An addictive personality is an underlying trait that predisposes individuals to both eating disorders and alcohol abuse.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction and an eating disorder, help is available. Call us at 833.827.2727 24/7. Visit our sister Eating Disorder Treatment Facility at www.rebeccashouse.org