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Eating Disorders - Debunking Addiction

Drunkorexia is a non-medical term describing the habit of reducing food intake (or even anorexia) combined with alcohol use. This calorie restriction is used to compensate for calories consumed through alcoholic beverages. It is not a new phenomenon, but it's not a safe one either. Restricted eating or anorexia plus alcohol use is dangerous.
As I tossed a french fry into my mouth, I thought, "mmm . . . salty." In fact, it was too salty for my taste, but somehow I still enjoyed it. That's because certain foods affect humans in a manner similar to other addictive substances. The fries didn't even taste that good, and yet I kept eating them. This new research in food addiction may explain why.
This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness week, and I think it is important to highlight the link between eating disorders and substance abuse. As a person who struggled with both, I feel it is important to bring awareness of statistics and research in this area.
I was asked the other day “is full recovery from addiction possible?” and that is the question that consistently is asked, and needs to be consistently addressed, because those who struggle with addiction, eating disorders, self-harm, etc. truly need to hear an answer from those whom are in recovery from addiction or recovered. Anyone who follows me on Twitter, or reads my blogs, knows that I believe in full addiction recovery. I know it is possible not only because I am living proof, but because I see people daily who are also living proof.
I am not a fan of the term “drunkorexia” mainly because it is not a medical term, nor a diagnostic category of the DSM. I also worry about the sensationalization of terms that are made up and shared all over the media to gain attention. I do however recognize its ease of being a descriptor, and how people can automatically connect what the struggle is about (The Link Between Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders). Overall, I wish we would see the terms co-existing conditions or co-morbid struggles to help educate the public on co-morbidities and how common they are amongst many mental health issues.
How many people struggle with financial issues in their battle with addiction and in their recovery? I think financial struggles are largely prevalent and not often talked about when you are in recovery/sobriety from an addiction.
As an activist, I find research is an inspiration for a lot of my writing, and is important to share to show trends of research, treatment, prevention and to help create conversations on topics that need more awareness. When I saw the article called “Heavy Drinkers Have Poor Dietary Habits,” my first gut response was a resounding DUH. Not the most professional response, I know.
I have always been very open about my past struggles with alcohol abuse and eating disorders. I also struggled with generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and self harm. I often felt like the only one who struggled with so many comorbid diagnoses. The reality is people rarely struggle with only one disorder. We simply do not fit in the pretty boxes of diagnoses, nor are we supposed to.
Since this is a blog on “Addiction” I thought it would be important to discuss the diagnostic criteria and terminology the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) uses, because the current manual does not include the word “addiction.” The current manual uses substance abuse and substance dependence. For the definitions and criteria on what substance abuse and dependence is see here.
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