Eating disorders and alcoholism are a very dangerous and damaging combination. Addiction experts are noticing a troubling new trend with these compounding disorders; often times, an individual will restrict the amount of food they eat in order to consume greater amounts of alcohol. The largest demographic that admits to engaging in these starve-and-binge drink behaviors are college-age female students. According to an article in Behavioral Pharmacology, many college age women engage in this behavior to cut down on calories, and are also bulimic. Roughly 40 percent of bulimic women also report a history of drug or alcohol abuse.
Although eating disorders in conjunction with alcohol abuse is not a new condition, its prevalence is increasing. Severely restricting food intake and then drinking alcohol on an empty stomach is very dangerous. Food in the stomach acts as a buffer to slow down the absorption of the alcohol; drinking on a completely empty stomach can lead to rapid intoxication, blackouts or alcohol poisoning. In addition, women’s bodies produce lower quantities of the enzyme that metabolizes alcohol than men’s, placing them at a higher risk for alcohol-related health problems. Alcohol abuse increases the risk of liver cancer, heart disease, arthritis, kidney disease, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. If you or someone you know is engaging in an eating disorder, alcoholism, or both, professional treatment can help. At Passages Malibu, we specialize in co-occurring disorders and have eating disorder specialists on staff.
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