Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse

Eating Disorders Substance Abuse

Eating Disorders Substance Abuse? Call Today for Help (888) 360-1333

Eating disorders and substance abuse affect millions around the world – nearly 3% of all Americans. Eating disorders were considered a young women’s issue until research showed a significant increase in the number of men suffering and much diversity in the age and race of sufferers. Though young women remain the largest demographic who struggle, eating disorders affect everyone. Recent statistics show that gender, age and race of substance abusers is changing as well. Some suffer from both eating disorders and substance abuse or dependence (about half of those who struggle with eating disorders).

Eating disorders substance abuse combined will manifest with very different features. The substance abuser is in search of their substance of choice. Planning and decision-making cycle around craving, getting the next high and/or management of withdrawal symptoms. Generally, the person with an eating disorder goes to great lengths to avoid food, meals with others and social settings that center on eating with others. Some eating disorders include binge eating. Like the substance dependent person, obsession for more is central. But the bulimic has the additional fear of food and its impact on the body, so she also obsessively plans the purging activity.

Recovery is very different for eating disorders substance abuse combined. The substance abuser’s goal is to abstain from mood altering substances while regaining physical and psychological health, emotional stability and social healing. The person with an eating disorder cannot abstain from food. Instead, she must learn to refrain from the symptoms of the disorder, such as purging, binging on food, and restricting food intake. She must create a new relationship with the substance she obsessed over. This is a very difficult process.

In recovery, the substance abuser reminds himself that he is an addict or alcoholic by professing it at community support meetings. Substance abuse recovery generally teaches that the abuser is powerless of his substance therefore abstinence is imperative. Those recovering from an eating disorder have spent much time hating their body, repeating self-condemning statements that lowered their own self-esteem, ego and nurtured self-loathing. Changing these statements to positive self-acknowledging statements such as “I am beautiful,” “I am unique,” and “I am precious,” is much more affective for those with eating disorders. Those recovering from eating disorders do so as self-empowered.

For those recovering from both eating disorders and substance abuse or dependence, the road to recovery will require tools that apply uniquely to each set of symptoms. Many individuals find support and recovery through community support groups. Much of the time, however, professional treatment or therapy is needed. If you or a loved one have a problem with substance abuse or an eating disorder, seek professional advice and support.