Binge Eating Disorder & Addiction

Binge eating is something that almost everyone is guilty of doing at some point during their lives. Whether it’s having that 2nd and 3rd helping of food during the holidays or pigging out at an all-you-can-eat buffet, we’ve all overeaten and paid the price with overly full bellies and stomach aches afterwards.

Binge eating disorder however takes things much farther than just the occasional overeating. Binge eating disorder is a very common eating disorder that is thought to affect almost 4 percent of all women in the United States. Chronic binge eaters will have these episodes of overeating two or more times per week. After binge eating, these sufferers typically feel intense shame and guilt and feel generally very distraught over their inability to control how much they eat.

While the exact definition of binge eating disorder has still yet to be agreed upon by medical experts, the majority can at least agree on the following emotional and behavioral signs and symptoms of the person with a binge eating problem:

  • Eating excessively large amounts of food
  • Eating quickly during a binge
  • Eating food even when not hungry
  • Frequently eating alone out of embarrassment over the quantity of food eaten
  • Hiding or hoarding food
  • Hiding evidence of eating
  • Feeling out of control in regard to eating
  • Feeling disgusted or guilty about binges
  • Dieting or food restriction after binging episodes, usually without weight loss
  • Depression or anxiety

Binge Eating and Addiction

Research indicates that up to 35 percent of individuals with substance abuse problems also have a co-occurring eating disorder. Furthermore, research also suggests that up to 50 percent of people with eating disorders also suffer from simultaneous substance abuse problems. With the giant overlap in eating disorder and substance abuse sufferers, it’s important to examine how these two seemingly separate maladies can influence and lead to one another.

Many studies have shown that individuals with eating disorders like binge eating will often self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to combat their poor body image and other depressed feelings. This can quickly lead to addiction the more frequently these substances are used as a coping mechanism.

People with binge eating disorder will also abuse drugs in an attempt to control their weight. For example, heroin and cocaine serve as appetite suppressants while cocaine also acts to speed up one’s metabolism. In the periods of guilt and shame that follow binge eating, these individuals will often abuse these drugs to help them “crash diet” or feel better about all the food they’ve just eaten. Obviously these substances are highly addictive and can lead to dependency incredibly quickly.

Since binge eating disorder and addiction often go hand in hand and so relevantly influence each other, when these conditions are both present they must be treated simultaneously in order to be effective. This treatment practice is known as dual diagnosis.

Destination Hope: The Women’s Program is the leading drug, alcohol and dual diagnosis treatment facility for women in Florida. Destination Hope knows how negatively so many women feel about their bodies and how quickly that can spiral into an eating disorder.

In addition to their expert therapists and clinicians on staff, Destination Hope also has a nutritionist as part of their team to help teach clients how to eat and live healthier during the process of changing their attitude toward food.

If there is a woman in your life who may have an eating disorder and therefore very likely a co-occurring substance abuse problem, please call the counselors at Destination Hope immediately so we can start mapping out your individual treatment plan today. We’re here day or night and are anxiously awaiting your call. Call us anytime at 1-866-808-7111 so we can help get you on the road to recovery.

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