Correlation Between Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse

Sometimes life deals you a bad hand, and things get too hard to handle. If you’re lucky, you’ll find the right kind of help at the right time. But some unlucky few get caught badly in the turmoils of time. Such people often tend to fall in between the cracks of society and deal with their problems in unhealthy ways. Alcohol, drugs, and eating disorders are super common in today’s struggling communities. But there’s one thing that most of us aren’t aware of yet. The correlation between eating disorders and substance abuse is more concrete than generally accepted.

eating disorders and substance abuse

Understanding how these disorders are associated with each other can help in uncovering certain ways to prevent patients from relapsing into detrimental habits. First of all, a person needs to understand these disorders one by one. Let us start with the most common disorders.

Substance Abuse Disorders 

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Alcoholism is a chronic ailment that occurs when a person is too dependent on alcohol consumption despite having health-related issues. Quite often, people suffering from alcoholism are unable to control their drinking habits due to physical and emotional dependence. Symptoms of alcohol addiction can be easily diagnosed: slurred speech, coordination problems, blackouts, agitation, aggression, nausea, and vomiting are some signs of AUD. 

Drug Use Disorder (DUD)

As you know, many drugs can be addictive when used excessively. And so, if the consumption of these drugs is stopped suddenly, withdrawal symptoms can be lethal. Excessive drug use can result in behavioral and physical changes. Paranoia, decreased coordination, heightened heartbeats, and increased blood pressure are symptoms of DUD. 

Eating Disorders

The obsession with food, body weight, or body shape can cause unhealthy eating patterns to develop. Seen majorly in young women, this disorder can affect people of any age and gender. Some experts believe that genetics and personality traits can also cause eating disorders. Even social pressure and mental health are factors that can cause such disorders. Symptoms of eating disorders can vary depending on the subtype, but it generally includes binge-eating, excessive use of laxatives, or fear of gaining weight.

How Likely are Eating Disorder Patients to Abuse Substances?

Research shows that those who had eating disorders were five times more likely to abuse drugs or substances than those who didn’t have eating disorders. Also, 35 out of 100 people who abused drugs were affected by eating disorders. People with eating disorders think substances like drugs or alcohol offer means of escapism.

What Steps Should a Patient Take? 

If you haven’t encountered any of these disorders, you’d be surprised to know that eating and substance-abuse disorders are basically caused by psychological health problems. They tend to co-occur quite often, and the road to recovery starts by seeking help. Health professionals at in Canada claim that recovering from addiction takes just one thing; “the desire to change one’s life.“ Seeking help can help tremendously in the recovery process; especially if a person doesn’t know where to start or how to begin their recovery journey. Although it is still not clear how much one disorder affects another, studies show that people suffering from eating disorders can display symptoms of drug abuse disorders. For example, a person who is too conscious or ashamed about their weight may find comfort in the euphoria that drugs provide, even if it is a momentary break from reality.
substance abuse issues

All Bad, No Good?

It can often feel that there’s only darkness at the end of the tunnel. However, there’s always hope of recovery, even if one is suffering from two different disorders. When eating and substance abuse disorders co-occur, the healing process can seem difficult. Only through comprehensive care and unwavering effort, it is possible to recover from addiction and eating disorders. And in today’s world, help is just around the corner. 

When it comes to eating disorders and substance abuse, the short answer to what they have in common is that they are both diseases that require professional help and guidance. A person suffering from either or both needs support and supervision to overcome it. While it is a battle that can be won, it is best to consult a psychiatrist or get admitted to a rehabilitation center if the case is severe. Dealing with both is something that takes time and patience, and sometimes trial and error until you’re able to find the best way to treat it. It’s important to live in a healthy environment, surround yourself with non-toxic people, and always ask for help if you find that you have triggers in any situation. 

Susan Harris

By Susan Harris

Susan Harris is the owner of Rooted Mama Health. She is the mother to two amazing children and wife of a loving husband. She strives to provide the world with all the information they need to live a happy and health lifestyle.