Chemical Dependency can be addiction to medications, illicit drug addition or alcoholism. Some people with eating disorders are also chemically dependent. While not all, even perhaps – most, people with eating disorders do not have chemical dependency, alcoholism or drug addiction, some do. Those that do usually, if not almost always, started their chemical dependency after their eating disorder began. The eating disorder is an obsessive compulsive thought disorder – that means the person thinks and thinks and thinks about about food weight and body image ALL the time. Often they report 90-100% of every day. When they start drink or using drugs or medications it quiets their mind shhh…yeah, they don’t think about it anymore – relief. AND if it controls their weight, it is a WIN WIN – until it’s not. When it get’s out of control and creates the same wreckage as other addicts it gets overwhelming just the same. In fact, the eating discover client feels tremendous shame because it seems especially “dirty” shameful because it shows flaw and pushes against their perfectionism. Everything falls apart and it is overwhelming. Depression often reaches an all time high.
This is a very dangerous time for someone with an eating disorder. The amount of hopelessness and despair can cause suicide ideation and even attempts. With intervention their can be hope. It is important to know that once the chemical dependency is arrested the eating disorder noise will come back with a vengeance and the eating disorder behavior will accelerate. If the eating disorder goes untreated the chemical dependcey recovery is at risk. Most addiction programs that promote and eating disorder track in their program will be unable to provide adequate support for this client and the client will likely need to be transferred to an eating disorder treatment center for their ongoing care.