Is There a Relationship Between Binge Eating and Addiction?

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How can you start to eat the right amounts of healthy foods?

Is binge eating disorder connected to substance use disorder? While a direct cause-and-effect relationship does not link the two, binge eating is an eating disorder that can develop from some of the same causes as substance use disorder. Substance misuse can also lead to disordered eating. What are the connections between these two disorders and can they be treated together?

The Link Between Eating Disorders and Substance Use Disorders

There is a likely link between eating disorders and substance misuse. According to Social Work Today, “…up to one-half of individuals with eating disorders abuse alcohol or illicit drugs compared with 9 percent of the general population.” Those who binge eat are more likely to become addicted to alcohol or drugs than those who are anorexic.

If a person is focused on losing weight, some substances, such as alcohol, nicotine and cocaine, may be used to suppress appetite. People may use these substances to reduce their weight. Hunger may be an overwhelming craving that people have when they’re withdrawing from a substance or are in the process of seeking more of a particular substance. These appetite-reducing substances may be used during this time to help a person avoid eating.

Conversely, those who are struggling with an eating disorder can use substances to try and treat the psychological symptoms that led to that disorder in the first place. Needing to feel calm and comforted, people might turn to food. People with eating disorders often feel like they are at war with their body — always struggling to control themselves.

Talking with a doctor, dietitian or counselor can help you start to redefine your relationship with food.

Why Do These Two Disorders Come Together?

Binge eating and substance use disorders are behaviors that have negative impacts on your body. There are many theories about why some people seem to be more prone to addiction than others. These theories include exposure to trauma during childhood, the influences of the culture surrounding the individual during adolescence and the role of genes that could lead some people being predisposed to substance misuse. Shared risk factors between eating disorders and substance misuse include:

  • Brain chemistry
  • Genetics
  • Stress
  • History of abuse or low supervision by parents
  • Social pressure
  • A desire to feel a certain way

Treating Binge Eating and Substance Use Disorder

When considering treatment for substance use, it is typically best to treat co-occurring disorders at the same time. When you support your overall health, it is easier to treat all contributing factors to addiction.

For example, by treating binge eating disorder and getting your body used to healthier eating patterns, you may feel less inclined to want to use substances. Using fewer substances will also lead to an easier time controlling your eating disorder because you will start to recognize more of your body’s natural hunger and thirst cues rather than having those altered by substances.

For your overall wellness, it is important to treat your mental and physical health at the same time and not to see binge eating and addiction as separate issues, but rather as two challenges that you address in your recovery.

The Recovery Village Columbus focuses on your holistic health. Talk with a representative about addiction treatment and how we can help you create a healthier life by treating addiction and co-occurring disorders. Contact The Recovery Village Columbus to learn about admission today.