The Correlation Between Addiction and Eating Disorders

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What is really interesting about treatments for anorexia bulimia and binge eating, is that it has been found that anorexia resembles addiction.

Eating disorders are a mental disorder that is characterized by having eating habits that can threaten your life.

Although most people worry about their weight at some point in their lives, eating disorders takes this to another level.

The amount you will think about your weight during an eating disorder is unhealthy.

This becomes comparable to addiction and truly takes over your life.

With 20 million females currently struggling with an eating disorder, men are not immune to this disease as well.

There are an estimated 10 million men struggling with eating disorders as well.

Different Types of Eating Conditions

There are three major types of eating disorders, that lead to treatments for anorexia bulimia, and binge eating.

  • Anorexia Nervosa: Those suffering from anorexia have a bad body image. You will see yourself as being overweight even if you are unhealthily skinny. You see your body as someone who needs to starve themselves and will even exercise compulsively in order to lose weight.
  • Bulimia Nervosa: If you have bulimia you may eat too much in a short period of time. Then, you will try to rid yourself of that food, forcing yourself to vomit, by taking laxatives or exercising too much.
  • Binge Eating Disorder: Similar to bulimia, if you have a binge eating disorder you will go through periods of out of control eating. Binge eating disorders do not mean that you will purge afterward. This can lead to extreme weight gain.

Despite these being the main three eating disorders that are recognized, there are other practices that would be considered abnormal and dangerous surrounding food. One of these is when someone chews their food, but spits it out before swallowing. This could technically be considered a form of anorexic, to avoid the intake of calories.

If someone does not meet any of the above criteria of the three eating disorders treatments for anorexia bulimia and binge eating will lead them to be considered having an “eating disorder not otherwise specified.”

The Link Between Addiction and Treatments for Anorexia Bulimia and Binge Eating

Although they are two different diagnoses, research has shown that treatments for anorexia bulimia and binge eating relate to addiction. What is pretty hard to believe is that almost 50 percent of people struggling with an eating disorder also abusing drugs or alcohol at the same time. About 35 percent of alcohol or illicit drug users have eating disorders compared with 3 percent of the general population.

This might be because people who suffer from both an eating disorder and an addiction often use one to cope with the other. Whether that is to feel more in control, or not, it creates a horrible cycle of mental illness.

What Causes The Need for Treatments for Anorexia Bulimia and Binge Eating

There are a few specific reasons that people develop eating disorders.


Research has shown that genetic predisposition is responsible for about 60 percent of addictions and eating disorders. This means that the neurotransmitters involved in both eating and substance use disorders are connected


When you look at nature versus nurture this is the result. Popular culture often glorifies being skinny, or excessive alcohol consumption. These cultural messages can lead to developing an addiction of some kind. It can also have to do with trying to fit in. This is seen more often in teenagers, children, and young adults.

Emotional or Physical Trauma

If you have any physical or emotional trauma, when it is left untreated, it can come back to hurt you in the form of an addiction or food problem. Eating disorders and addiction are usually a sign of a deeper problem.

Mental Illness

If you suffer from any form of untreated mental illnesses you are at a risk for a disorder to develop. Whether this is depression, anxiety, or PTSD, this can make you vulnerable to developing an addiction to replace the control in your life.

Signs of Eating Disorders

Research has made things very clear, that eating disorders and substance abuse often mimic one another. When looking for an eating disorder or an addiction, the signs to look for may not be incredibly clear.

Behavioral Signs

  • Inability to stop behaviors or quit even after multiple times
  • Obsessive preoccupation with food or drugs
  • Intense cravings
  • Strict rituals surrounding dieting or substance abuse
  • Isolating to hide eating patterns or substance abuse
  • Giving up other interest in other aspects of life to focus on behaviors or substances
  • Continued use or restriction despite hurting yourself physically

Physical Signs

  • Calluses on knuckles
  • Sunken cheekbones
  • Scabby skin
  • Decaying teeth
  • Sunken eyes
  • Severe weight loss

When looking at treatments for anorexia bulimia and binge eating and addiction treatment in general, you will see that there are many similarities between the two diseases. This shows that it can be hard to diagnose eating disorders. It is important to remember that they may be acting together.

Dual Diagnosis Treatments for Anorexia Bulimia and Binge Eating

Addiction and eating disorders are both chronic diseases. This means that treatments for anorexia bulimia and binge eating are actually more of treating a dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis occurs when you suffer from one addiction, as well as a mental health disorder. This means you may need treatments for anorexia bulimia and binge eating, but also for a substance use disorder. Because of this, there are high rates of relapse meaning you must get treatments for anorexia bulimia and binge eating as soon as possible.

When you look for treatments for anorexia bulimia and binge eating, your best chance at long-term recovery is to have treatments for anorexia bulimia and binge eating, as well as your addiction. When treated separately it shows that treatments for anorexia bulimia and binge eating are only successful 25% of the time. This is why when you participate in treatments for anorexia bulimia and binge eating you will need to treat any other underlying issues you have.

Treatments for Anorexia Bulimia and Binge Eating

Although getting your diagnosis for an eating disorder is the first step, you will then need to go through treatment. There are a few main methods that tend to work in treatments for anorexia bulimia and binge eating. Treating an eating disorder typically involves a combination of psychological and nutritional counseling. You should also be monitored medically. If it is incredibly severe, you might even go into a rehab facility. For some people this is great, but for others, this can push you deeper into your disorder. This is why you must go to the right program.

There is No Ideal Body, Just Your Body

With only 5 percent of women naturally possessing a body that fits the ideal picture of American beauty, this leaves 92 percent of women feeling bad about their bodies.

This is why many women end up going to unhealthy measures to change it.

If you are struggling to deal with society’s concept of the “ideal” body, we can only hope you have not resorted to an eating disorder.

If this is the case, at Resurgence Behavioral Health, we offer treatments for anorexia bulimia and binge eating.

Contact us today to learn more about our free insurance verification for treatment.

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