Eating disorders are an important issue to address when dealing with addiction because of the many similarities between eating disorders and addiction as well as the frequency in which eating disorders are dually diagnosed with addiction, especially amongst women. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH):
“An eating disorder is marked by extremes. It is present when a person experiences severe disturbances in eating behavior, such as extreme reduction of food intake or extreme overeating, or feelings of extreme distress or concern about body weight or shape.”
Eating disorders and addiction both have psychological and physical sides to the symptoms and treatments. When someone is suffering from both, it is recommended that the physical and psychological symptoms be treated simultaneously. Much like addiction, eating disorders often begin because a person feels like it is something they can control, in an otherwise out of control life.
The problem is that again, like addiction, eating disorders quickly become a problem that cannot be controlled without help and treatment. In addition to similarities in the thought process of eating disorders and addiction, they may often coincide because people get hooked on drugs when they take them in order to achieve the same thing that they try to achieve with anorexia, which is weight loss.
Many diet pills can become addictive and many illegal drugs (especially uppers) have the side effect of weight loss, but it is not healthy to lose weight in any of these manners.
The two most common forms of eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia. There are many degrees of severity to each. NIMH states that the third category of eating disorders is “eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS).” One example of an EDNOS, which has received extra attention in recent years, is binge-eating.Anorexia A person with anorexia will eat very little or nothing at all for long periods of time. This is done as a form of control and/or an unrealistic body image. A person who suffers from anorexia is starving themselves, and will suffer from the effects of malnutrition.
Bulimia: A person suffering from bulimia will also often starve themselves, but it will be followed by a binge. After binge-eating, the person will feel guilt and low self esteem levels commonly causing them to induce vomiting in order to undo the results.
When suffering from eating disorders, it is very important for a person to get help and treatment, especially when it is present along with a substance addiction. Treating them together is important for several reasons. Because both eating disorders and addictions are often caused by similar issues, they must both be addressed to get to the root of these issues and achieve full recovery.
Additionally, because there are so many parallels in symptoms and causes, it can be difficult to determine which are associated with the eating disorders and which are associated with the addictions. Destination Hope: The Women’s Program is a rehab that specializes in dual diagnosis treatment for people with addiction and mental health issues, and has experience treating eating disorders.
Having experts who know how to handle these complicated problems can make all the difference. If you or someone you care about is suffering from an eating disorder and an addiction to drugs or alcohol, please call our counselors today at 866-808-7111. We are here to answer any of your questions and provide help 24 hours a day.