According to the EMCDDA, 50% of people in Europe have a co-occurring disorder of drug addiction and eating disorders. This is common for those with bulimia or those who use pharmaceutical methods for controlling weight. If they have taken laxatives, diet pills and diuretics, then they are more likely to be in the habit of taking other addictive substances. What both of these addictions have in common is having a secret life and engaging in compulsive behaviors. It is also important for this co-occurring disorder to have intensive professional treatment in order to better protect your body.
Many with eating disorders feel uncomfortable in their own skin, are upset, and feel defeated. Drugs make those with an eating disorder feel relief as well as a mood boost when they are feeling unpleasant and in pain. Taking drugs like methamphetamine can reduce feeling hungry which can allow those who are anorexic to not feel the pain of hunger. Marijuana can make those with an eating disorder feel calmer about the risks of discovery. If people drink alcohol while having an eating disorder and then throw up, it will look more like an effect from drinking too much than wanting to throw up for weight loss; making this look more acceptable and easier to hide eating disorder. Sometimes, substance abuse can come first and the eating disorder can be a coping mechanism like when people are on marijuana and they binge on food that causes weight gain, only for them to regurgitate to lose it later.
When it comes to treating eating disorders, it is important for drug history to be check out as it may be the cause. In Europe, psychoeducation is a method of treatment in which medical professionals determine the causes, risks, and consequences of this co-occurring disorder. Other methods include dietary education and planning, cognitive challenging of eating disorder attitudes and beliefs, building skills and coping mechanisms, and expressing the obstacles of trying to improve and preventing a relapse.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help both disorders by changing behavior by recognizing the misleading patterns of thinking and replacing them with healthier, realistic behaviors. Dialectical Behavior Therapy can check behaviors and life responses as well as the efforts to change the behaviors that carry negative effects or impacts. Both of these co-occurring disorders are treatable and will help you gain control of your life in a healthy, safe way.
Last updated & clinically assessed 26 March, 2021