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Eating Disorders and Addiction

About Eating Disorders and Addiction

Eating disorders and addiction is a more common link than many realize. This co-existing disorder can seem strange to those without personal experience with a loved one’s eating disorder. Many think eating disorders and addiction do not have any of the same underlying issues, but the truth is that the link between eating disorders and addiction is much more prevalent than once thought. Some overlapping issues behind the two begin with the root of many co-existing issues. Both eating disorders and addiction seem to have similar genetic components and chemical makeup of the brain. It has also been noted that certain personality traits, such as self-control, impulsivity, and emotional triggers all created links between both the disorder and the disease.


Even the criteria for diagnosing an eating disorder like bulimia and an addiction like heroin can be strikingly similar. Along with other compulsion addictions such as sex addiction, food addiction, and gambling addiction, these types of co-occurring disorders are screened in much the same way. When an individual is dealing with addiction and an eating disorder, there are certain criteria that clinicians look for during intake exams. Some of these may include the following:


  • Preoccupations that become obsessive, creating patterns of compulsive behaviors
  • Abandonment of activities and interests in favor of comfortable, safe addiction patterns
  • Lack of ability to make safe decisions for oneself
  • Continued drug addiction and binge eating despite adverse outcomes

Eating Disorders and Addiction Truths

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The apparent components that feed into addiction and eating disorders are so similar and so destructive, the individual may well need intensive inpatient rehab in Huntington Beach as well as mental health counseling. Many individuals arrive at Coastline rehab suffering from depression and anxiety caused by long-term drug abuse and malnutrition. You can be addicted to drugs and alcohol, but also to food. Food abuse is on the rise, especially since many types of food contain highly addictive components.


Recovering from both issues is extremely difficult, only 30 to 40% of the patients fully recover. Like drug abuse, eating disorders are linked to impulsive behaviors. Abusing illicit substances or alcohol might look like a way to alleviate the pain related to bulimia, anorexia. They can also reduce the sensation of hunger for people suffering from anorexia (methamphetamine) or act like a relaxant (marijuana) if the patient is experiencing anxiety and high-stress levels. For bulimia, alcohol can make the vomiting easier.

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Eating Disorders and Addiction Facts

There are around 8 million people in America suffering from eating disorders, the vast majority are women. Anorexia and bulimia are the most common eating disorders. This is extremely dangerous and can lead to death. Actually, the mortality rate is the highest among all others mental illnesses. The danger is even greater when combined with substance abuse. Half of the people with eating disorders are addicted too, a proportion 5 times higher than in the general population. Medical problems are often the result of eating disorders and addiction: cancer, heart issues, HIV, hepatitis, digestive problems…the list is long and apart from health issues, social and relationship problems are frequent too. The causes are often related to trauma such as abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual), an unexpected life change, the death of a loved one…


Eating Disorders and Addiction Causes and Symptoms

 Here are the most common signs of an eating disorder:

  • Being constantly on a diet
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom after eating
  • Binge eating in secret
  • Food Hoarding
  • Consuming pills, laxatives, and diuretics
  • Compulsive exercising, several hours or several times per day
  • Using illicit or legal medication (Adderall or Cocaine) to lessen appetite


The roots often lie in genetics, peer pressure, medical history, and difficulty to cope with life in general. As a result, there are signs that some emotional changes are occurring:

  • Social withdrawal (from family and friends), especially when questioned about the disease and its effects
  • Avoiding food in general
  • Being preoccupied with weight and appearance
  • Being obsessed with calorie intake


Eating Disorders and Addiction Recovery and Treatment


There are plenty of rehab centers in Los Angeles but few only specialize in eating disorders. It is crucial to treat both eating disorders and addiction at the same time for maximum chances of success. Medical and nutritional needs must be addressed by a competent team with a lot of experience and psychotherapy should be added too. Look for a dual diagnosis treatment center that can take care properly of such disorders. Most rehab places able to address these issues use a 12-step program. Cravings during sessions are frequent and might make it difficult for patients to pay attention during sessions. They will also have a hard time changing their diet and do their homework after attending support groups meetings.


Recovery Help Is Just A Phone Call Away.  Call Today 800-712-9638 or Click here

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