Eating Disorders and Drug Abuse

Eating disorders and drug abuseThe term eating disorder generally refers to conditions characterized by abnormal and detrimental eating habits often having to do with body image. Some well known eating disorders are binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. Many people believe that eating disorders primarily affect females, but males often struggle with them as well. Eating disorders are surprisingly common and yet mostly misunderstood. Eating disorders can also lead to deep depression and suicide as well as a long list of physical problems such as malnourishment.

There is an established link between eating disorders and drug abuse. One may lead to another, while in others the same issues that led to an eating disorder may drive one to drug use as well. A report by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University found that up to 35 percent of alcohol or illicit drug abusers have eating disorders, a significant increase compared to the three percent of the general population that struggles with eating disorders. They also found that girls with eating disorder symptoms are almost four times more likely to use inhalants and cocaine, and bulimic women who are alcohol dependent report a higher rate of suicide attempts, anxiety, personality and conduct disorders and other drug dependence than bulimic women who are not alcohol dependent.

Eating Disorder Risk Factors and Characteristics

The report by CASA also found that eating disorders and drug abuse share many of the same risk factors. This means that many of the situations and circumstances that can lead to eating disorders have also been shown to lead to drug abuse in many cases. These shared risk factors can include the following problems:

  • Low self-esteem, depression or anxiety
  • History of sexual or physical abuse
  • Unhealthy relationships with parents or friends

There are many factors that could lead to either an eating disorder or drug abuse. The characteristics and signs of a struggle with eating disorders or drug abuse are similar as well and may involve the following:

  • Social isolation
  • Compulsive behavior
  • Changes in mood and temperament

Get Help for Eating Disorders and Drug Abuse

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, drug abuse or both, we want to help. Call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline to speak with a representative who can listen and help you learn about options for treatment. You can be well again, and we want to help you get there. Stop struggling in secret and call today.