Eating disorders are characterized by unhealthy (and often dangerous) patterns of eating or not eating that are caused by obsessive and compulsive behaviors. Eating disorders do not discriminate and can affect men and women in all walks of life.
Individuals struggling with eating disorders typically have a self-sabotaging view of themselves or their bodies, and more often than not, are already struggling with a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression.
Due to this, many people turn to using drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with their co-occurring disorders, which can and often does lead into a full substance addiction.
In this article, we’re going to take a look into the correlation between eating disorders and substance abuse and addiction.
Common eating disorders
The three most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder.
Anorexia is an eating disorder that is most characterized by a distorted view of an individual’s self- and body image, typically due to an unwarranted fear of being overweight.
Bulimia also involves a distorted view of oneself and one’s body that is characterized by binging, which is most commonly customized by a fear of weight gain.
Binge-eating disorder is characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food, typically very quickly (in an out of control way), and to the point of discomfort.
The mental state of an individual struggling with an eating disorder is a main factor in the development of a substance use disorder; and common substances are more popular within certain eating disorders than others.
Common substance use disorders
Research suggests that over half of all individuals diagnosed with an eating disorder are simultaneously struggling with a substance use disorder.
Eating disorders and addiction share a multitude of common casualties and risk factors, including brain chemistry, family history, social pressures and the state of one’s mental health.
While the presence of co-occurring disorders in an individual can pose a serious threat to one’s health (and even life), early intervention is essential to someone’s recovery.
Eating disorders and addiction
Individuals struggling with anorexia and bulimia are the most likely to develop a substance use disorder in addition to their eating disorder.
While those struggling with bulimia are more likely to turn to alcohol, people struggling with anorexia have been found to be less likely to turn to alcohol and more likely to turn to drugs.
The substances that are most commonly used by patients struggling with eating disorders are alcohol, marijuana and sedatives, though other drugs have been reported as well.
It’s important to remember that there is no “rule” when it comes to the type of substances used in response to an eating disorder, and these statistics, while representative of the majority, are not a reflection of every single individual.
Due to the variance that can exist in each case, it’s important to seek professional medical help as soon as possible.
Reach out when help is needed
People resist pursuing medical treatment for various reasons; we’re here for you regardless.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, substance use disorder or both, seek professional help. You can get in touch with us here.
Our team here at Seeds of Hope is on a mission to help individuals regain sobriety and stabilize their mental health so they can live a long, healthy, happy life. We provide high-quality behavioral health care, specializing in eating disorder treatments.
One of the strongest aspects of our programs is the fact we assess, treat and care for you as a whole person, rather than isolating an issue and neglecting the rest of your personhood. By prioritizing this unique approach, we are able to provide you with the most effective, personalized care.
To speak with one of our intake specialists and learn more about the different programs we offer, give us a call today at 610-644-6464.