For most people the term drunkorexia is a new term. It is the name of a disturbing new binge-drinking trend that has swept through college campuses. It is a scary new drinking culture where a person restricts food calories to make room for alcoholic drink calories. It is also known as the liquid diet. It is a combination of an eating disorder, anorexia with binge drinking. Studies have shown that 30% of men and women between the ages of 18 and 23 are affected even though it affects more women than men.
According to Wikipedia, it is defined as; “Drunkorexia is a colloquialism for self-imposed starvation or binge eating/purging combined with alcohol abuse”.
Drunkorexia behavior stems from the fear of gaining weight from alcohol intake. The behavior may be related to bulimia where the alcohol is used to make vomiting much easier and also help manage eating anxieties. For those that wish to get intoxicated faster they may avoid food during the day so as to allow alcohol to be rapidly absorbed through the stomach and the small intestines into the blood stream. Some others think that alcohol has calories that they have to avoid food so alcohol and replace the calories they avoided. This is a misconception since alcohol has no nutritional value and it has what is considered empty calories. This drinking disorder can get so bad and have an individual hospitalized for up to 3 weeks.
Avoiding food calories in favor of drinking calories can pose a number of risks. One thing is that you compound the risks of eating disorder and that or binge drinking and this can pose an even greater threat to the individual’s physical, emotional and mental health. Below are some of the risks;
- Drinking on an empty stomach gets one trunk faster and this in turn reduces their self-control and they are predisposed to make bad decisions that they would not have made if they were sober
- One may also experience binge eating since they are extremely hungry and they are unable to control their urge to eat
- By reducing the amount of food calorie intake, the individual is at risk of not getting the nutrients they need for their body to function and they might end up being malnourished
Treatment of Drunkorexia
Since it cannot be medically diagnosed, there is no specific treatment for it. It is a combination of two different disorders hence treatment should focus on both of them. Not many treatment centers are capable of treating both the alcoholism and the eating disorder. Also there might be an underlying mental health disorder that is driving both the alcoholism and the eating disorder.
Regaining a healthy life free from the eating disorder and alcoholism can be done if the individual has the right information tools. Getting into a dual diagnosis program that is supervised by addiction certifies physicians, therapists and psychiatrists who can create an individual plan for the individual. They will also provide knowledge, skills and support needed for the patient to rebuild his life. Just like any other addictions, the earlier the diagnosis the better the outcome.
To find balance and have a healthy lifestyle the individual should learn to moderate and not to eliminate food intake. They need to understand that for the body to function it needs nutrients and if they do not intake food they deprive their bodies of important nutrients it needs to function.