Eating disorders and substance abuse are two conditions that often occur simultaneously. In fact, research has shown that approximately half of all persons with an eating disorder have a dual diagnosis with a substance abuse problem. It can seem like they feed on one another in a cycle of shame and regret that leads toward ever-worsening health. Given the shame associated with both, it makes sense that a person with an eating disorder might try to medicate their pain with a mind-altering substance, only to then recoil from that behavior with a food binge/purge cycle.
Eating disorders and substance abuse are treatable. Both eating disorders and addictions are treatable, and there is a bright hope for these addicts. The trick is to identify the problem beneath the layers of shame and deception that the sufferer invariably experiences. Interestingly, the two disorders seem to share similar brain chemistry, indicating that what is good for one may be good for the other. While the individual sorts of craving for each might manifest with different symptoms, it is likely that these needs are coming from the same biochemical place. People suffering from an eating disorder and addiction can both benefit from 12-step programs, nutritional services, and both individual and group therapy.
While eating disorders are commonly associated with female sufferers, they are also found in men. Though only 10% of the millions with an eating disorder are male, that leaves a large number of men who may benefit from treatment. In fact, this number may be underreported, as many men will overlook the fact that they might be eating to cover feelings or that their seeming desire to be fit and trim might be a mask for some deeper pain. Homosexual men are more likely to suffer anorexia or bulimia, while heterosexual men tend toward compulsive and binge eating.
The signs of an eating disorder and addiction are remarkably similar. A person with an eating disorder is prone to eat rather than attend a social, family, or professional function. Conversely, they may avoid those situations altogether, so no one notices they are not eating. Recreation might fall to the wayside in favor of an eating session. Eating, just like drug addiction, can interfere with work or school and overall functioning. For instance, a lack of food, as in anorexia or bulimia, may hinder mental functioning and cause anxiety, agitation, and physical symptoms. Another red flag might be if any negative feelings arise with regard to food or if food is used to stimulate or suppress any feelings at all.
Keep in mind that addiction and eating disorders are closely linked. In fact, psychiatrists often consider an eating disorder to have the same roots as drug or alcohol addiction. If you or your loved one suffer from an eating disorder, or if they are using their addiction to mask or act out on an eating disorder, there is professional assistance available. All you need to do is get in touch with a professional drug or alcohol rehab center today.