How Are Eating Disorders and Drug Abuse Connected?

In today’s society, everyone strives for the image of perfection: to wear the latest fashions, to have the most up-to-date hairstyle and to be super thin. Over the years, the obsession with perfection has stimulated an increase in eating disorders, the two most common being anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Others include binge eating disorder and eating disorder not otherwise specified, but Orlando residents with these issues will need professional help.

An eating disorder is a complex mental illness. Orlando residents struggling with an eating disorder typically struggle a mental health issue such as depression, anxiety or drug abuse. According to the 2003 Food for Thought: Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, “. . . individuals with eating disorders are up to five times likelier to abuse alcohol or illicit drugs and those who abuse alcohol or illicit drugs are up to 11 times likelier to have eating disorders.” This statistic indicates that there is a striking correlation between drug abuse and eating disorders.

How Drug Abuse Affects Eating Disorders

Eating disorders and drug abuse have many similarities. Both are multifaceted diseases without a single cause. They are both chronic, life-threatening diseases. Genetic, psychological and social factors increase the risk of eating disorders and drug abuse. Secrecy, obsessive behaviors and compulsive behaviors are all components of eating disorders and substance abuse problems. The following are some of the more common drug abuse and eating disorder relationships:

  • Cigarettes and eating disorders as cigarettes curb appetite.
  • Alcohol and bulimia. Many bulimics struggle with alcoholism, putting them at a higher risk for suicide, anxiety, personality disorders and other substance abuse problems.
  • Heroin, cocaine or methamphetamines and bulimia. These illegal drugs aid in weight loss by increasing metabolism, decreasing appetite and aiding in purging. Orlando residents can quickly lose weight with this combination, but it is an incredibly dangerous practice.
  • Diuretics and laxatives and eating disorders to purge the body of food and increase weight loss.
  • Appetite suppressants and eating disorders decrease appetite and aid in weight loss.

Abusing any of the above substances or drugs is dangerous in and of itself, but abusing them to maintain an eating disorder is even more dangerous. The combination of drug abuse and eating disorders can be deadly for any Orlando resident.

Eating Disorder Causes

You may wonder if the eating disorder causes drug abuse issues or if the drug problems cause the eating disorder. Although it can occur either way, the eating disorder typically occurs first and the drug abuse problem is secondary to the eating disorder. Drug use is typically used to encourage weight loss and maintain an eating disorder.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Treating a co-occurring eating disorder and drug addiction is difficult because both issues are so complex. It takes a team of professionals to treat any Orlando patient. Dual Diagnosis treatment, or treating both problems simultaneously, is necessary for long-term recovery.

If you live in Orlando and you have an eating disorder and drug addiction, call our toll-free helpline today. Our recovery professionals are available 24 hours a day to help you get the treatment you need. Do not wait another day to call us now.