A man hugs his daughter after learning that she struggles with eating disorders and alcoholism

Eating Disorders and Alcoholism

In recent years, studies have shown that almost half of those who have an eating disorder also regularly abuse drugs or alcohol. Approximately 35% of people who abuse drugs or alcohol also have an eating disorder. This trend is particularly common in young teenage girls, so parents should take note of this in case they are ever faced with either problem.Anorexia and bulimia are the two most common eating disorders that can be directly linked to alcohol abuse. In fact, there are several similar characteristics that are shared by people who have eating disorders and substance abuse problems.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse has created a list of substances that people routinely use to self-medicate, decrease appetite, and increase metabolism.

  • Alcohol
  • Laxatives
  • Caffeine
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Diuretics
  • Emetics
  • Amphetamines

For the most part, physicians treat their patients for one condition or the other. It is uncommon for health care professionals to diagnose and treat eating disorders and alcoholism in one person simultaneously. There is now research, however, that indicates how significant this overlooked area of health care really is. Such research should show health care professionals the importance of recognizing the association between eating disorders and alcohol abuse.

Regular treatment providers of mental health and substance abuse need to be prepared for the presence of two different factors being at play when they see patients with one of these types of problems. Additional questioning and testing of patients with one of these medical issues is certainly necessary, as it is important to identify and diagnose these conditions as early as possible in order to facilitate treatment.

Two Separate Problems

One of the largest problems facing mental health and substance abuse practitioners is the difficulty in recognizing the presence of two separate problems in patients. One of the reasons for this is that most patients who seek help for one problem tend to deny that they have any additional mental or emotional issues. If the patient is unwilling to talk about an issue, then health care providers cannot treat that person for that particular ailment.

Another reason that practitioners do not recognize multiple problems in patients is that the patients simply do not realize that they have co-occurring illnesses. This may sound very similar to denial, but it is actually very different. In some instances, mental health practitioners believe that substance abuse is a symptom that their patient has.  Substance abuse practitioners view eating disorders in the same way. This type of viewpoint leads to a variety of misdiagnoses in patients who have both an eating disorder and alcoholism.

Get Treatment for Eating Disorders and Alcoholism

All health care practitioners need to become better educated about the prevalence of co-occurring eating disorders and alcoholism. With greater understanding comes the ability to create proper methods of treatment. Treatment will help people to overcome both of their problems, instead of just one of them.

If you need treatment for eating disorders and alcoholism, call Promises Behavioral Health today. Among other disorders, we treat:

To learn more about eating disorders and alcoholism, call 844.875.5609 today.

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