Bulimia Treatment Centers
Many bulimics are able to recover from bulimia without going to a bulimia treatment center. However, if the disease is severe or if there are multiple illnesses being dealt with, a bulimia treatment center may be needed for the best possible chance at recovery.
Services Provided by Bulimia Treatment Centers
Bulimia treatment centers vary in the services they offer but typically provide multi-disciplinary care for the treatment of bulimia including:1
- Inpatient or outpatient care
- Nursing and clinical structure
- Detoxification programs
- Education on eating disorders
- Psychological care (including different types of therapy)
- Psychiatric care
- Dispensing of medication
The level of care needed by each individual is generally assessed at the bulimia treatment facility based on the progression of the disease, previous therapies, medical conditions and other lifestyle factors.
Inpatient Treatment: What to Expect?
Inpatient or residential bulimia treatment centers are typically freestanding buildings or part of a hospital dedicated to the treatment of eating and other associated disorders. The patient resides at the facility full-time. These bulimia treatment facilities offer 24-hour medical care which both disallows eating disorder behavior, like bingeing and purging, and treats eating disorders through a variety of means. These centers also provide programs to detoxify from drug or laxative addiction. A patient in a bulimia treatment center can expect a highly individualized level of care, intense therapy, consistent reassessment and creation of future treatment plans.
Outpatient Bulimia Treatment
Bulimia treatment centers that offer outpatient or partial hospitalization programs may operate out of eating disorder treatment facilities, hospitals or mental health facilities. Treatment is typically provided in a therapist's office and many bulimia treatment facilities have common rooms for classes and activities.
The most basic form of treatment offered in an outpatient bulimia treatment center tends to be one of any number of therapies which the patient might take part in once or twice a week. This type of treatment is used when bulimia is in its early stages and the patient can still control the bingeing and purging on their own. Somewhat more involved are day programs, where a patient still resides at home but spends most of their days in the bulimia treatment facility. Day programs include therapy, eating disorders group therapy, education and activities.
Choosing an Inpatient vs. an Outpatient Bulimia Treatment Center
Both the inpatient and outpatient bulimia treatment centers have the advantage of being specific to eating disorders and thus are staffed with eating disorder specialists. However, depending on the individual patient, one may be more appropriate than another.
The type of program for an individual generally comes down to three factors:
- The severity of the bulimia
- Past treatments
- Other medical issues
Outpatient bulimia treatment facilities are typically for bulimics with a shorter history of the disease, no (or few) previous attempts at treatment and no other medical complications. Outpatient treatment is designed for the person who is in a healthy environment at home and can generally control their bingeing and purging behavior. These people are typically in the earlier stages of the disease.
Inpatient bulimia treatment centers are less common and are for more severe forms of bulimia. This type of facility is capable of careful monitoring of the patient throughout the day and handling additional mental health issues. Inpatient bulimia treatment facilities are often chosen when the patient has tried several types of outpatient treatment without success. An inpatient program is also chosen more often when the patient has a chaotic or unsupportive home life.
Outpatient vs. inpatient bulimia treatment center care is also largely driven by cost, as inpatient care is often prohibitively expensive for those whose insurance will not cover it.
Bulimia Treatment Center Costs
The costs of treating bulimia vary widely due to the severity and complications of each individual case. Because bulimia treatment plans can involve multiple services from a bulimia treatment center such as therapy, mutritional counseling and psychiatric care, the costs of treating bulimia can be high. Over the course of the illness, treating an eating disorder in the United States on an outpatient basis can cost $100,000 or more.2
Inpatient bulimia treatment centers can be extremely costly at, on average in the United States, $30,000 a month with stays in the 3 - 6 month range. It is estimated that 80% of women do not get the intensity of care that they need and are sent home weeks early due to the high costs.
Insurance coverage for treatment of bulimia varies widely depending on the plan -with inpatient stays most likely not to be covered by an insurance plan. Possible free or low-cost options for bulimia treatment include:
- Community agencies or agencies that receive public funds
- Counseling services through universities for students
- Departments of psychiatry within medical schools
- Becoming part of a research trial