alcoholism and eating disorders

Alcoholism and Eating Disorders

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are two eating disorders that typically affect teen and adolescent girls. However, you don’t need to be a teen or a girl to struggle with eating disorders. Men, boys, adults, and the elderly all have developed and can develop an eating disorder. In essence, those who suffer from eating disorders have an intense, and often unreasonable, fear of getting fat. However, it’s not only weight gain. Body dysmorphia can mean an individual sees themselves as too thin, too large, not well-defined enough, or any other of a host of personal misconceptions about their body. Often, anorexics will reduce their daily caloric intake to almost nothing. Bulimics will eat, only to later purge by vomiting, taking laxatives, taking diuretics, or a combination of all three. More and more frequently, alcoholism and eating disorders are appearing in conjunction.

At The Ranch TN, we understand how complex eating disorders are. Also, we’re well-versed in treating alcohol use disorder.

Alcoholism and Eating Disorders

When these girls hit college, however, they are faced with a new set of challenges. Not only must they learn how to eat in dining halls and hide their lifestyle from roommates and friends, but they also encounter opportunities for drinking on a level never experienced before. Along with drinking alcohol comes the conundrum of how to deal with the additional empty calories; these calories must be regulated and controlled in the same way that calories from food are controlled. Emotionally, these girls must also adjust to their new surroundings and often feel intense pressure to look and act a certain way, especially if they want to be part of a sorority in the Greek system. Regulating caloric intake in order to allow for the consumption of alcoholic beverages without gaining weight now has its own name — “drunkorexia.”

In order to reduce the intake of food, those engaged in drunkorexia develop coping mechanisms such as working out during regular mealtimes, eating only once a day or throwing up just before a night of drinking. Some bulimics will binge on both food and alcohol and then vomit it all back up at the same time. Drunkorexia is becoming another alcohol-related epidemic on college campuses. Even girls who entered college without an eating disorder quickly adopt drunkorexia as a way to maintain their weight while being able to drink.


Although drunkorexia is mainly prevalent among women, some college-age men have also jumped on the bandwagon in order to avoid gaining weight from drinking beer. Some young men engage in drunkorexia as a way to save money. This is because you can become drunker with less alcohol if you drink on an empty stomach. It also may be an economic necessity. Faced with the choice of being able to afford dinner or an evening of drinking, most will choose to drink.

Research has shown that alcohol advertisements that tout low-calorie beers have increased the prevalence of drunkorexia on college campuses. These ads both remind the students that they need to stay thin and providing them with a way to do it. Some pro-anorexia websites even offer tips on how to drink without gaining weight. As with all drinking problems, mental health professionals feel that addiction is at the root of drunkorexia. In fact, researchers have found that alcohol abuse and eating disorders occur together often. Sometimes along with other psychiatric or personality disorders.

The Ranch TN

While many wouldn’t put the two together, alcoholism and eating disorders do frequently occur together. Because eating disorders are frequently mental health issues when an individual suffers from it and alcohol addiction they have a co-occurring disorder. At The Ranch TN, we address co-occurring disorders through our dual diagnosis treatment program. No matter what, we can help you or a loved one heal and overcome both eating disorders and alcohol abuse. So reach out to us today at 1.844.876.7680.

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