Drunkorexia: Starving for a Drink
Drunkorexia is a condition marked by the withholding of food in order to swap those calories for alcohol. Drunkorexia is dangerous on many fronts. First, trading nutritious calories for the empty calories found in alcohol does not provide the body with the sustenance it needs to survive. In addition, intoxicating amounts of alcohol can reduce the amount of nutrients absorbed by the body. Alcohol also increases digestive juices, causing an irritation of the stomach
Consuming alcohol without food can also lead to alcohol poisoning and such risky behaviors as unprotected sex and drunk driving.
Young women “might abuse caffeine, laxatives, diuretics, prescription stimulants or prescribed or over-the-counter medications to suppress appetite, to purge themselves or to increase their metabolism," said Carole Nowicke, research associate at the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University. "These young men and women in most cases have not been diagnosed as suffering from anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa but are engaging in extreme calorie restriction, and/or purging before drinking."
Researchers from the University of Missouri conducted a study to learn more about the dangerous growth of drunkorexia. Twenty percent of the 1,000 students participating in the study admitted to engaging in the practice, which has also been associated with binge drinking.
Figures from the CDC estimate that over 90 percent of alcohol consumption by today’s youths involves binge drinking and that individuals falling between the ages of 18 to 34 are the ones most likely to binge drink. When it comes to drunkorexia, University of Missouri investigators found that female undergraduate students seem to be at the highest risk.
A 2010 study of freshmen at a Southeastern University found that 14 percent were restricting calories prior to drinking. Six percent of the freshmen were trying to avoid gaining weight and 10 percent were trying to accentuate the effects of alcohol.