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“Half of all people with eating disorders also abuse drugs or alcohol.”

-National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse


Teen addiction and eating disorders often occur together. Half of all people with eating disorders also abuse drugs or alcohol, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. This interchangeable relationship begins when one disorder replaces the other. For example, a person who used substances to manage their anxiety now turn to food as a reliever instead of drugs or alcohol.

Half of all people with eating disorders also abuse drugs or alcohol

National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

Why do people replace bad habits with other bad habits?

Habits are not easily formed and can take a lot of time to reform. Many who suffer from one bad habit often switch to another that is similar or closely related. As is the case with drugs one may begin to change their eating habits to soothe their problems. Dr.Sue Babcock, licensed psychologist who treats eating disorders, often sees others turn from food to drugs and alcohol to cope with stress, low-self esteem, violence or other issues.

Those wrestling with the vulnerability and anxiety that comes with recovering from drug or alcohol abuse often seek refuge in their ability to control how little or much they eat. This unhealthy fixation from one disorder to another is not gender specific. Although eating disorders are more widely known for occurring in females, this mental health issue can manifest in males too. Approximately 10 million males will suffer from an eating disorder within their lifetime,  according to the National Eating Disorders Association. Most times those who show a risk of developing another disorder are provided the proper care to ensure they maintain a healthy lifestyle once treated. This type of treatment is also known as a dual diagnosis.

Approximately 10 million males will suffer from an eating disorder within their lifetime

National Eating Disorders Association

What are key things to keep in my mind

For those suffering from multiple disorders, it is best for friends or loved one to be non-judgemental with them. Many people tend to comment and offer advice for those with Eating disorders. The fact of the matter t is out of the person with an eating disorder’s control. Addiction and eating disorders are brought on by unhealthy coping habits that require time and patience to resolve. Rewiring your brain to adapt to new habits is extremely hard.

What you can do to help someone with an eating disorder

1. Learn as much about the disorder as possible. Read books and articles for more understanding on how eating disorders work and are treated.
2.Be honest. Speak to your friend of loved on suffering from this disorder. Don’t confront them with judgment, speak to them honestly in a safe place. Show your concern for their health and well-being.
3.Tell Someone. If they continue to exhibit signs of an eating disorder contact someone who can provide them with more help than you can. Whether it is a parent or counselor inform someone else that they are in need of help.
4.Try to get them help. Within your research, you are sure to come across places that offer help for those suffering from eating disorders. You cannot force your friend to start treatment but you can let them know their options. Let them know there is hope and they can get pass this with professional help.


The relationship between teen addiction and eating disorders
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