The over consumption of alcohol takes a toll on your body, as well as your psychological state. Bulimia nervosa is equally harmful, producing both physical and emotional effects. When these two conditions exist together, the harmful effects multiply and can even be deadly.
Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse
Individuals who consume large amounts of alcohol may experience dangerous symptoms, some of which include, but are not limited to:
Continued excessive use of alcohol over a period of time can have effects on your physical appearance as well. These effects can include dull and discolored skin, discolored/rotting teeth, and even hair loss.
Effects of Bulimia
The binging and purging behaviors associated with bulimia lead to negative and even life-threatening effects, such as:
- Dental cavities
- Electrolyte imbalance
How Bulimia and Alcoholism Interact
Combining alcoholism and bulimia creates a potentially deadly outcome for most individuals. When the symptoms of these two disorders overlap, the negative effects can be magnified.
While drinking to the point of purging is dangerous for anyone, it’s extremely dangerous for someone who has an eating disorder. Purging after not consuming anything can lead to dangerous dehydration, and other internal deficits. Alternatively, eating during the day and then drinking to the point of purging so as not to consume any calories leads to dangerous side effects since the body isn’t able to absorb key nutrients.
The Problem of Co-Occurring Disorders
While anyone can suffer from an eating disorder and substance use disorder, women seem to be especially likely to suffer from these two disorders. It’s estimated that 30-35% of women seeking treatment for bulimia have a co-occurring alcohol use disorder. Additionally, studies show that 20-25% of women who are not currently seeking treatment have a dual diagnosis of bulimia and alcoholism.
Having both of these mental health disorders increases your chances in developing more severe symptoms, some of which include:
- Severe anxiety and depression
- Higher likelihood of hospitalization for psychiatric problems
- Suicidal behavior
Additionally, women with bulimia and alcoholism may experience other co-occurring disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and personality disorders.
Signs of Bulimia and Alcoholism
Those who are suffering may hesitate to step forward with their struggles, or ask for help. If you suspect your loved one may be struggling with alcohol use disorder and bulimia, have a conversation with that person about the symptoms you’re noticing. Here are some of the biggest signs that an individual is struggling with bulimia and alcoholism at the same time.
Changes in Weight
Noticing a severe change in weight can be a major indicator that something is wrong. Losing a noticeable amount of weight means the disorder has been going on for a while. Muscle in the body provides a higher amount of nutrients than fat. Starving your body will cause it to live off the muscle first, then transition to surviving off stored fat.
Drinking Alcohol Instead of Eating
Another sign is noticing the individual avoiding food all day, but engaging in heavy drinking in the evening. They think that drinking heavily in the evening will provide the calories their body is looking for after “saving calories” by not eating during the day. This can ultimately lead to heavy intoxication since there is nothing in their system to absorb the alcohol.
With heavy intoxication comes purging. The body is trying to get rid of the harmful liquid consumed, and this is the fastest way it knows how.
Getting Help for Bulimia and Alcoholism
Co-occurring disorders are complex and require help from a medical professional. If you or someone you know are currently living with an eating disorder and alcoholism, please know that it is never too late to start your path to recovery. Call Seeds of Hope today to take the first step towards treatment.
We have teletherapy appointments available for intensive outpatient & partial hospitalization programs, psychiatric evaluations, and more for adult eating disorders or teen eating disorders. For more information, visit our page on teletherapy.