Alcohol and Eating Disorder Treatment

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When you work with an alcohol and eating disorder, it is important to pick the right treatment for your needs. This will ensure that you can handle both of the disorders at the same time, ensuring that you are able to get it under control. Sobriety is going to be a lifelong issue, but with the right treatment issue in place, you will be able to fight both of these disorders to keep your health in place.

Alcohol addiction is actually a very serious disease and while it is pretty common, many of those who deal with this addiction are good at hiding the symptoms and some of the major problems. There are often going to be many reasons why the individual is dealing with alcohol addiction, but there is a surprising connection between alcohol and various eating disorders, including bulimia and anorexia.

While it is possible for one of these serious eating disorders to happen at any time, they may often show up when the individual is in their teen or young adult years the most. There are numerous situations that can make the person feel uncertain about their lives, including heavy peer pressure, and the idea that they need to look and be perfect all the time. This can lead them to dealing with an eating disorder. On top of this, it is a common issue that eating disorders can occur at the same time as substance abuse, which can make the problem worse.

Understanding Both Disorders

On their own, both the eating disorder and the alcohol abuse can be dangerous. But when they are combined together, they add to the risk as well and can increase how likely it is that the individual will have health conditions and even death if they do not pursue alcohol and eating disorder treatment.

Anorexia and bulimia are both problems that can come when we talk about eating disorders and both can be treated at an eating disorder treatment center. It is estimated that bulimia is occurring in somewhere between 8 to 41% of those who have a substance abuse problem and anorexia happens in 2 to 10 percent of the people as well. This is a huge number of people who are suffering from both disorders and running into health conditions due to that fact.

It is important that the patient finds the right eating disorder and alcohol treatment center to help them deal with both conditions. Both the eating condition and the alcohol abuse must be treated at the same time. If the treatment facility decides to only address one of the conditions, then the patient is more likely to face a setback and get into a relapse situation later on.

Why Do Eating Disorders and Alcohol Abuse Happen Together?

It is not uncommon for both of these issues to happen together at the same time. Just like with an addiction, eating disorders are quite complex and this could lead to them being influenced by several factors. The individual who has an eating disorder could be dealing with a traumatic childhood, family dysfunction, poor self-esteem, hormones, and genetics.

Similar to some of the other addictions and disorders that are out there, eating and alcohol use disorders could be one of the ways that the individual is going to cope with some of the trauma that happened in their past. Some of those who deal with intense feelings of stress, anxiety, fear and sadness may resort to not eating and drinking as a way to cope with some of their problems.

According to some of the research done by the National Eating Disorders Association, it is estimated that almost half of those who suffer from some kind of eating disorder are also dealing with a substance use disorder. This is often in the form of alcohol, though it can be found in other substances as well, such as drugs. This is five times higher than the general population so it is a major concern.

Are Alcohol and Eating Disorders Related?

Many people assume that those with eating disorders would want to stay away from alcohol. They are worried about gaining weight and looking bad, so why would they want to consume something that has so many calories inside of them? However, alcohol is often used as a tool by those who have an eating disorder.

In the case of someone who is anorexic, alcohol is a tool that helps them to vomit so they can get rid of some of the calories they have eaten. This substance will also cause some dehydration so that the individual will eat less. Those with anorexia can also use it as a simple way to reduce anxiety or even calm themselves down from the guilt they feel when they do not eat.

Others may also find that they have to avoid eating during the day so they have less guilt about how many calories they take in at night while drinking. And since alcohol does not have any real nutritional value in it, you will find that this can make the problem worse. The endless cycle of both can lead to issues with the alcohol abuse while also leading to nutritional deficiencies.

Alcohol and bulimia are two things that are going to be linked as well. When someone binges on alcohol or food, they can then make themselves vomit because they feel guilty or shamed about their behavior. Those with bulimia can also drink to help numb some of the guilt that they feel while managing their symptoms.

It is even possible that alcohol will be tied over to binge eating. Bing eating is one of the most common eating disorders among Americans. People who do this will overeat to help them escape some of their negative feelings. This is a coping mechanism that is not healthy for the individual and can make them feel guilt and shame.

They may then turn to drinking more in the process. Dopamine produces feelings of happiness and pleasure and can feel like a reward to the brain. Someone may be dealing with too much stress and anxiety so they are looking for some new ways to cope. They may binge eat and then feel bad, so then they rely on the alcohol to help them feel better.

Alcohol and Eating Disorder Treatment Overview

Now that we understand a bit more about both conditions and how they are going to be connected together, it is time to look at some of the alcohol and eating disorder treatment options that are available to the patient.

Eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia are dangerous when they are happening on their own. They starve the person of some of the great nutrients that they need and can make them sick over time. However, when the individual decides to deal with some of the stressors and other issues coming out of those eating disorders with alcohol, things can get out of control in no time. This is why most treatment centers functional as dual diagnosis and are going to work to treat both conditions at the same time for the best success.

The individual should make sure that they choose a treatment facility that is able to handle both the alcohol abuse and the eating disorder. If only one of these disorders is addressed and the other is ignored, then the individual is not treating the whole problem and may relapse because they still have a problem.

Length of treatment

There are different lengths of programs that the individual is able to choose from when addressing alcohol use and an eating disorder. Most of these will include 30 day, 60 day, and 90 day options. The longer choices are often the best to help treat these disorders since there are two of them to work with at the same time. If the patient does need to stick with a shorter amount of time, then they may need to consider counseling and more to help when they are done.

Patients need to choose the right facility to help them out. You can choose either an alcohol treatment center or you can go with an eating disorder treatment center. But it is important to check with the facility to make sure that they have the right resources to handle both of these disorders at the same time.

Entering Into a Treatment Center for Alcohol and Eating Disorders

There are several steps that will happen when the patient makes the decision to enter into one of these dual diagnosis treatment facilities. When a co-occurring issue happens, the facility will often start with the detox from alcohol to get that substance out of the system. This needs to be done under the supervision of a medical team. The withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to work with on their own. But when the patient has an eating disorder, they lack many of the critical nutrients and more that their bodies need during this time.

A medical detox will make sure the patient is safe. They will be watched by their medical team and can get medication if necessary along the way. They will also be given a healthy diet to try and offset some of the symptoms that will happen when they go through the detox.

The detox phase can take a few days to complete, but the medical professionals will make sure that the patient is safe. When the patient is done, they will then be able to choose between an inpatient or an outpatient treatment program. The main difference is that with inpatient dual diagnosis treatment, the patient will need to stay at the treatment facility while the outpatient option will allow the patient to go home.

For these two major disorders, it is often best to choose an inpatient alcohol and eating disorder treatment center. They are going to be more in-depth and allow the patient to get away from some of the triggers that make them fall back into their own habits. They will be monitored constantly with some of the medical professionals that they need to make the treatment more efficient.

However, there are some patients who are not able to leave their homes for any length of time, whether it is a shorter 30-day inpatient program or a longer 90-day or 1 year treatment option. The outpatient treatment options for eating disorders and alcohol abuse will allow them to get the counseling and more that they need to finally fight through both of these disorders.

Regardless of the program that the patient chooses, the patient will go through a mixture of therapy, nutrition counseling for the eating disorder, and other options to help them recognize some of their triggers and deal with the disorders at the same time. The medical team will be able to determine which therapy options are the best for their needs.

An individual plan will be drawn up for each patient. It can include any other mental health disorders that will show up, overall health, social needs, potential threats to their sobriety and more. A medical professional will help create the plan and can help the patient as they go through the treatment to see the best results.

What Happens After the Treatment?

Many worry that when they are done with the treatment center, then they will be completely on their own. Considering how hard the eating disorder and the alcohol abuse can be, you may find that it seems overwhelming to fight them and you may worry that you will not be able to do it all on your own after treatment.

The good news is that the treatment center will include options that keep you safe and sober, even when you are all done with treatment. Once you leave, there will be support groups, continuing education and therapy, and so much more. This will be part of your original treatment plan to ensure that you are able to see the best success.