When it comes to the topic of eating disorders, many associate it with eating less or more than what is recommended for daily nutrition. What many don’t know is just how strongly connected eating disorders and substance abuse are. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), nearly 50% of individuals with an eating disorder also abuse drugs and/or alcohol, with a rate of 5 times greater than what is seen for the general population. Conversely, a 2003 report published by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that individuals who abuse alcohol and/or drugs are 11 times as likely to develop an eating disorder compared to those who do not abuse substances. Why is this so?
The NEDA states that although alcohol is caloric, abuse often occurs to help someone with an eating disorder regurgitate or dehydrate themselves. Another reason may be to suppress one’s appetite, leading them to significant weight loss. Lastly, some research suggests that substance abuse may be used to help a person cope with early childhood trauma, stressful life events, pressure from societal views and more. In addition to alcohol, many will abuse marijuana, crack, cocaine, methamphetamine, hallucinogens, club drugs, steroids, insulin, tranquilizers, thyroid medications, psychostimulants, laxatives, diuretics, diet pills, weight loss supplements and more. Substance abuse may develop before, during, or after an eating disorder.
While many may try to self-medicate by abusing substances, the problem remains that emotions are left undiscovered and/or expressed, problems are not resolved, and healthy ways to cope with these problems are not developed. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse warns that the co-occurrence of an eating disorder and substance abuse is linked to higher suicide rates.
If you have an eating disorder and/or are experiencing substance abuse, make the decision to seek treatment today. Thankfully, there are many effective tools to assist people through recovery such as medical stabilization, nutritional rehabilitation, pharmacotherapy, and psychosocial therapy such as family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and interpersonal psychotherapy, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
New Vista Behavioral Health is home to several world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery treatment centers. If you are seeking help, call us today at 888-316-3665 for a consultation. Don’t wait any longer to seek treatment. You could very well save your own life.