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Eating Disorders & Drug Abuse

December 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Drug Abuse, Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders and Drug Abuse

 

Eating Disorders & Drug Abuse

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.

There is such a large link between eating disorders and drug abuse that it’s surprising all drug and alcohol rehabs don’t also treat eating disorders.

Both eating disorders and drug abuse usually start early in life and then quickly spiral into more serious problems. For example, high school girls with eating disorders are more likely to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and use drugs than those who don’t have eating disorder symptoms. The same goes for girls who smoke, drink, or use drugs. The girls who smoke, drink, or use drugs are much more likely to have eating disorder symptoms than those who aren’t involved with drug abuse.

Eating disorders and drug abuse go hand in hand because many times the drugs abused facilitate weight loss. For instance people with eating disorders will abuse drugs such as caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, heroin and even over-the-counter medications. Over-the-counter medications can include diuretics, emetics, or laxatives. Drug abuse and eating disorders also play off each other in people because they are trying to self-medicate negative feelings and emotions that come along either with the eating disorder or the drug abuse.

Common risk factors for eating disorders and drug abuse

Eating disorders and drug abuse have multiple characteristics that are similar. For instance the risk factors for eating disorder and drug abuse are similar. Those with eating disorders and drug abuse tend to have common brain chemistry and a common family history. Eating disorders and drug abuse can both appear at times of intense stress and changes. And both eating disorders and drug abuse are likely to develop in people who have low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and a history of physical or sexual abuse. Both eating disorders and drug abuse can be influenced by the parent’s drug abuse and dieting behaviors, social pressure, advertising, marketing and the entertainment industry.

Common characteristics of eating disorders and drug abuse

Eating disorders and drug abuse share an obsessive compulsion with a substance whether it be with food or drugs, intense cravings, compulsive behavior, attempts to keep the disorder a secret, social isolation and risk for suicide. Eating disorders and drug abuse have common effects on the brain and both eating disorders and drug abuse are linked to other psychiatric disorders such as OCD, bipolar etc. Both eating disorders and drug abuse are chronic, recurring, life-threatening diseases.

The effects of eating disorders and drug abuse

The effects of eating disorders and drug abuse are similar. Just like someone who abuses drugs will show physical problems after extended use so will someone with an eating disorder. Those with an eating disorder can possibly have hair loss, tooth decay, osteoporosis, heart failure and a failure of all body systems. Severe cases of eating disorders can be fatal. This is very similar to the drug abuser. Someone with a drug abuse problem can show signs of weight loss, hair loss, tooth decay, malnutrition, heart failure, failure of all body systems and in severe cases can die.

More statistics on eating disorders and drug abuse according to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University:

  • Up to 50 percent of individuals with an eating disorder abuse alcohol or illicit drugs compared to approximately nine percent in the general population. Up to 35 percent of alcohol or illicit drug abusers have an eating disorder compared to up to three percent in the general population.
  • Alcohol abuse is common in people with eating disorders, particularly bulimia. Bulimic women who are alcohol dependent report a higher rate of suicide attempts, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, conduct disorder and other substance dependence than bulimic women who are not alcohol dependent.
  • Illicit drug use is particularly common among bulimics. Drugs such as heroin and cocaine are used to facilitate weight loss by suppressing appetite, increasing metabolism and purging.

Statistics Source: The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University

http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/the-connection-between-eating-disorders-and-substance-abuse/

 

 

 

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