Addiction and Eating Disorders

Addiction and eating disorders are not two topics you may readily associate with one another. After all, one involves drugs or alcohol and the other involves food and body image. However, these two conditions have many similarities and can go hand-in-hand. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), “Up to 50% of individuals with eating disorders abused alcohol or illicit drugs, compared to 9% of the general population. Conversely, up to 35% of individuals who abused or were dependent on alcohol or other drugs have had eating disorders, compared to 3% of the general population.”

Individuals may use drugs, alcohol, or food as a way of coping with challenging situations. It can be used as a way to try to feel more in control of what is happening or to forget about problems for a while. However, this can lead to more problems.

Those struggling with eating disorders may develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol as a way of facilitating their control over food. Alcohol can make them feel full while also acting as a diuretic. Prescription, illicit, or over-the-counter drugs may also be used and develop into an addiction.

At the same time, when one misuses drugs or alcohol, it can impact their appetite. They may not feel hungry and end up eating very little, or may feel ravenous and end up binge eating. Both of these behaviors can contribute to eating disorders, or exacerbate existing problems.

A Widespread Impact on Addiction and Eating Disorders

In addition, both addiction and eating disorders impact virtually every aspect of a person’s life. They are linked with not only physical health problems, but mental, emotional, and social health problems as well. They can also impact relationships, finances, career, and more.

Effective treatment is key for recovery. Finding a dual diagnosis program that treats both addiction and eating disorders, or addiction and mental health, is encouraged. It is important to address both conditions together so that clients can learn to manage the impact of both on their life and recovery.

Get Real Recovery supports clients through individualized treatment plans that address their unique needs. This ensures that the full impact of addiction and other health conditions is recognized and the most effective plans are put in place for recovery. There is help available, and a thriving life in recovery is possible. While addiction and eating disorders may go hand-in-hand, they don’t have to control one’s life.

If you have co-occurring disorders, contact Get Real Recovery to learn more about our Dual Diagnosis program.

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