Addicted to Bingeing: Alcohol and Food

Addicted to Bingeing - Alcohol and FoodAddiction comes in many forms. Though most people are familiar with the addictive nature of alcohol and drugs, and many are aware of the problems of binge eating, the similarities and connections between them may not be as apparent. The fact is that bingeing – whether on alcohol or food – is extremely dangerous and may indicate a serious psychological disorder.

How Binge Eating Works

The brain uses a chemical system to send and receive messages related to satisfaction, wellness and comfort. Eating food releases pleasing chemicals in the brain, so, for a healthy person, this system helps control the amount and type of foods consumed. For some people, however, the spikes in “feel good” chemicals can become addictive. As with alcohol or drugs, however, it takes increasing quantities to feel the original effects of eating. If the person continues to chase the “high” or comfort associated with this type of eating in time he will be consuming far too much unhealthy food. Weight gain then fuels personal shame – which is a source of emotional or psychological tension, that is then self-medicated through additional food and/or drink.

The Risks of Binge Eating and Drinking

Binge drinking is defined as any intentional consumption of large quantities of alcohol with the specific intent of getting drunk. Binge drinking greatly increases the onset and likelihood of full-blown alcoholism as well as engagement in other risky and reckless behavior. While most people who consume moderate amounts of alcohol – defined as one drink or less per day and two drinks or less per day for women – will not develop an addiction to alcohol, some people are born with a biological predisposition toward addiction and may become alcoholic anyway. But binge drinking is always physically and psychologically destructive.

How Alcohol Encourages Binge Eating

Alcohol is an appetite stimulant. Alcohol also greatly impacts a person’s impulse control. This is a double threat for the person struggling with over-eating. Alcohol stimulates the person’s appetite and then lowers her ability to control her urge to over-eat. Disappointment or shame may lead to increased use of alcohol as self-medication, which in turn leads to additional overeating. It’s a vicious cycle that creates numerous health and wellness risks.

How to Stop Binge Eating

While total abstinence is possible with alcohol, it is obviously impossible with food, as it is necessary to live. Rediscovering a healthy relationship with food can be just as hard for a person addicted to overeating as abstinence can be for a heroin addict. Lasting recovery requires intensive, professional treatment of any and all co-occurring conditions in the addict. The best recovery clinics develop comprehensive treatment plans that are unique to each individual person. A wide array of therapies may be called upon to accomplish these goals including the following:

  • Personal counseling
  • Education about the roots, nature and effects of addiction
  • Protection from stressful environments and triggers
  • Support group meetings
  • Spiritual care
  • 12-step programs
  • Healthy activities and diversions
  • Preparation for life beyond addiction
  • Medically supervised detox

Not all treatment facilities offer this level of attention and integration.

Help with Binge Eating

Call our toll-free helpline operated twenty-four-seven, and share your thoughts and concerns with one of our specially trained addiction counselors. We can answer your questions, help you understand the situation you or a loved one are in, and even confirm your insurance coverage of treatment. Get off the rollercoaster of binge eating and drinking. We can help. Call today.