Eating Disorders and Binge Drinking
What happens when you combine an eating disorder with heavy or binge drinking?
Nothing good, according to a recent study by professors at the University of Missouri. We have long known that both behaviors are prevalent among young people, especially college age young men and women. What has not been known until recently, however, is how interconneted these behaviors are, and the newly coined term “drunkorexia“.
Annie, a college sophomore at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. said, “I am not sure I have ever restricted my calories to save them for drinking, but I have thought I could drink more since I’d skipped a meal.” Such thought patterns can lead to more drinking, and increase the risk of developing more serious eating disorders and addictions.
The relationship between alcohol abuse and eating disorders, including restricting and purging was examined by Victoria Osborne, an assistant professor of social work and public health. Researchers found that 16 percent of those surveyed reported restricting calories to “save them” for drinking. The problem was more prevalent among female students:
about three times as many women reported in engaging in the behavior than men. Motivations for drunkorexia included preventing weight gain, getting intoxicated faster and saving money that would be spent on food to buy alcohol.
“It is important that young people understand the risks of this behavior”, Osborne says. “We teach college students about the dangers of binge drinking, but most of them do not consider the long term health consquences of disordered eating and heavy drinking, either alone or combined.”
Disordered eating combined with binge drinking also places people at higher risk for violence, risky sexual behavior, alcohol poisoning, substance abuse and chronic diseases later in life. According to Osborne, women are at higher risk for health problems related to binge drinking because they metabolize alcohol differently than men.
Many college campuses have alcohol and substance education programs for students. For example, Temple University, Annie’s school, has the Campus Alcohol and Substance Awareness (CASA) offers education and counseling. University Health Services at the University of Wisconsin also has an alcohol and drug assessment program. Ongoing weekly support groups are offered for individuals recovering from substance dependency, and for adult children of alcoholic families.
This guest post provided by Heidi_PsyD from the Examiner.