Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders: Is There a Correlation?

addictioneatingdisorder

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, organized by the National Eating Disorders Association, began on Sunday, Feb. 21. The week seeks to bring about awareness of the dangers of eating disorders, and to challenge the way the public perceives these illnesses.

The goal of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (#NEDAwareness) is to put the spotlight on eating disorders and improve public understanding of their causes, dangers and treatments. Millions of people across the country suffer from eating disorders, and by increasing awareness and access to resources, we can encourage early detection and intervention. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder, so early intervention can mean saving lives.

Co-Occurring Eating Disorders and Substance Use Disorders

In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment aims to help individuals understand the connection between eating disorders and substance abuse.

Substance use and eating disorders have strong correlations starting at development. Both diseases are influenced by genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors and can develop before, during, or after treatment for an eating disorder. For some individuals, substance use may cause appetite suppression leading to significant weight loss that can trigger the onset of an eating disorder. For others, it can be relied upon for avoidance-based coping.

According to the National Eating Disorder Association, nearly 50% of individuals with an eating disorder are also abusing substances such as drugs and/or alcohol.

These two diseases feed upon each other and intensify the destructive qualities of one another. This in turn creates a vicious cycle for the person suffering being that one disorder cannot be treated without treating the other.

If you know someone who has an eating disorder and is also abusing substances, seek treatment and determine if they are equipped in treating individuals with this specific co-occurring disorder.

Sources:
www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
www.eatingdisorderhope.com

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