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Dealing with Anorexia and Alcoholism

Eating disorders are commonly found in teens and college students.

You have probably heard of anorexia nervosa but few people know of “drunkorexia,” a new phenomenon that can have devastating consequences. This term refers to an addict who is abusing alcohol while suffering from anorexia. As the anorexic continues to abuse alcohol, she builds a tolerance to it thus opening the door for alcoholism.

Skip Food and Grab the Alcohol

According to Discovery News, drunkorexia involves drinking large amounts of alcohol without consuming enough nutrients to nourish your body. Some anorexics forego meals to “save the calories” they would use on food and use those calories for drinking alcohol later. In essence, instead of eating food they drink alcohol.

Why Does an Anorexic Starve Herself and Drink?

Common reasons for engaging in this dangerous behavior include:

  • An immense pressure from society to stay thin. Anorexic women view fat as repulsive and unattractive. A drunkorexic may drink large amounts of alcohol so she will be forced to vomit any calories she consumes. She may not even realize that she has spiraled into a cycle of bulimia and anorexia.
  • Getting drunk occurs faster when meals are skipped. Since the alcohol doesn’t have to compete with food in the stomach, it hits the body more quickly, bringing feelings of tipsiness or drunkenness faster.
  • It’s a way for college students to save money. Sometimes, money that is supposed to be spent on food goes toward buying more alcohol. The addict will starve all day and engage in binge drinking at night.
  • A need to squash emotional pain that is rooted in childhood abuse, neglect or abandonment. Both conditions – anorexia and alcoholism – are sometimes caused by past issues of trauma, pain or neglect.
  • A need for social acceptance among peers. College is associated with partying and drinking large amounts of alcohol so some anorexics drink to fit in.
  • An anorexic will drink alcohol as a way to calm their fears and anxiety about food. Since most anorexics feel discomfort when it comes to food, some use alcohol to alleviate these feelings.

Consequences of Anorexia

anorexia and alcoholism

Starving your body of nutrients creates a domino effect of health problems that affects your entire body. You may have problems with depression, anxiety, mood disorders and obsessive thinking. It may be hard to concentrate or make decisions. A lack of nutrients can make you feel lightheaded and fainting spells can occur. Severe electrolyte imbalances can occur that create heart complications such as low blood pressure and heart palpitations (a weird fluttering sensation of your heart). You may have anemia and other bleeding problems such as frequent nosebleeds because blood can’t clot correctly. You may also have weak bones, swollen muscles, joints and tissues.

The Link Between Anorexia and Alcoholism

When you deprive yourself of essential nutrients, the effects and damage of alcohol are amplified which can increase your risk of chronic alcohol-related illnesses. You also have an increased risk of alcohol poisoning if your body is physically weak from being starved. Drunkorexia can result in cognitive problems.

Treatment

A dual diagnosis of alcoholism and anorexia is challenging to treat but recovery is wholly possible. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism advises a combination of medical intervention, behavioral and emotional therapy, and prescription medication as possible treatment options. If you are ready to overcome anorexia and alcoholism, seek help today.

You deserve to live life without being chained to these addictions. Contact us today for assistance in finding a treatment program that specializes in dual diagnoses that will put you on the path to recovery.