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Eating Disorders & Substance Abuse Causes

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Mental disorders that cause irregular eating habits as well as extreme concern or distress about body shape or weight are known as eating disorders. These disorders are actually quite serious and can even be fatal. Patients who are afflicted with an eating disorder will likely have obsessions with food and body weight. Eating disorders are often misunderstood, and there tends to be a misconception that people should just be able to “eat regularly”. However, for those who have an eating disorder, it isn’t that simple.

Types of Eating Disorders

There are different types of eating disorders that have different effects on the patients. The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder.

Anorexia Nervosa

Typically, patients who suffer from anorexia nervosa see themselves as overweight no matter how thin they may actually be. They have a distorted view of themselves, which causes them to become obsessed with food, exercise, caloric intake and portion control. Other anorexia symptoms include severe emaciation, denial of the seriousness of their disorder, refusal to eat in front of others, lack of menstruation in women and girls, severe portion control and inability to maintain a healthy weight.

Bulimia Nervosa

It is often difficult to know when someone is suffering from bulimia nervosa as many of these individuals are a healthy, normal weight or perhaps even overweight. Typically, these individuals will act in secret as well. When someone suffers from bulimia, they have the uncontrollable urge to “binge” or consume vast quantities of food and then “purge” with behaviors like the use of laxatives, self-induced vomiting, fasting or excessive exercise. Bulimia nervosa is a serious condition that can lead to a chronically sore esophagus and throat, severe dehydration, gastrointestinal problems, heart attack and kidney failure.

Binge-Eating Disorder

A binge-eating disorder may be characterized over a loss of control over the consumption of food without any attempt to purge. This may include eating when not hungry or eating out of shame or guilt. Those who suffer from binge-eating may be obese or overweight. Often, those who have binge-eating disorder suffer from other problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal problems and/or gall bladder disease as a result.

Eating Disorder Treatment

Eating disorder treatment should be approached from a holistic standpoint. Typically, a person with an eating disorder will turn to a team that consists of medical physicians, therapists and nutritionists for complete care. Treatment for anorexia, treatment for bulimia or treatment for binge-eating disorder will usually involve medical care, nutrition, therapy and/or medications.

  • Medical care – When a person begins treatment for an eating disorder, the first thing that needs to be addressed is any health issues that may exist as a result of the eating disorder. For example, in the case of binge-eating, diabetes or high blood pressure may need to be treated.
  • Nutrition – A nutrition plan is usually developed by an experienced nutritionist to help the patient restore a healthy weight, stabilize, have guidance for normal eating and begin an individualized meal plan.
  • Therapy – When eating disorders are treated, individual psychotherapy is encouraged. Family and/or group therapy may also be beneficial.
  • Medications – Some medications may help with mood or anxiety symptoms that occur as a result of an eating disorder.

Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse

Eating disorders and substance use disorders often go hand-in-hand. In some cases, methamphetamines and amphetamines are abused because they cause weight loss. An important aspect of treating an eating disorder when a substance use disorder is also present will involve a drug or addiction rehab center that treats co-occurring disorders.

The Recovery Village Ridgefield is an example of such a facility. Our facility even has a nutritionist on staff that works with patients who have eating disorders specially, which makes us one of the most respected facilities in the Washington and Oregon area. If you are suffering from substance misuse as well as an eating disorder, now is the time to seek treatment. Call us today and have a confidential conversation with one of our compassionate addiction specialists. Help is available to you; you don’t have to suffer any longer.