Drug Addiction and Eating Disorder Treatment

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There are many great treatment centers available that will help the patient handle their addiction and their eating disorder. Finding one that can handle both conditions is the key to seeing lasting results and taking care of your health. With the right medical professionals, patients are able to learn how to take charge of their lives and change the way that they handle their emotions and the world around them.

Overview of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a type of mental health condition that will cause a disruption in the eating habits of the person. It also affects the way the patient will feel and think about food. There are different aspects about the eating disorder, but one thing that is common in all of them is that the patient who suffers from it will become obsessive about monitoring their weight.

It is estimated that millions of people struggle with an eating disorder each day and the number is likely to go higher. There are many things that can influence whether the individual will suffer from an eating disorder, but many of these individuals will also have to handle depression and anxiety. This can cause them to look to drugs to help handle the pain.

While the person with an eating disorder may temporarily feel better when they use their drug of choice, it does not take long before the substance abuse makes the problem so much longer. understanding more about the connection between addiction and an eating disorder is one of the key components of getting recovery and help from both conditions.

Is There a Link Between Addiction and Eating Disorders?

There is a link between eating disorders and addiction for many patients. It is estimated that 37% of those who have an eating disorder will also abuse alcohol or drugs, which is higher than the general population. A big issue is that the eating disorder can often resemble an addiction, and it becomes easy for the patient to just fall right into that as well.

There are many eating disorders that will be associated with substance abuse. There is not one that has a higher risk of developing the drug abuse compared to one of the others. Those with bulimia, anorexia, and more could have trouble when it comes to taking a substance and using it to make themselves feel better. This often will make the situation worse for them instead.

Shared Risk Factors Between Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse

Patients may find that the feelings and some of the behavioral tendences that will drive both the drug addiction and many eating disorders are going to have a lot in common. This is part of why they tend to happen together and may be the main reasons that the individual needs drug addiction and eating disorder treatment.

Some of the risk factors that are shared between these two disorders include:

  1. Being more susceptible to messages that they see in advertisements and the media.
  2. Severe symptoms of anxiety and depression that are not treated.
  3. Low self-esteem.
  4. History of sexual or physical abuse.
  5. Being exposed to behaviors from their parents that are unhealthy.
  6. Being subject to a lot of unhealthy norms and social pressure from their peers.

An individual who has one or more of these risk factors are going to be more likely to suffer from either an eating disorder or a drug abuse problem. When there are multiple factors going on for the individual, they may need to seek treatment for drug addiction and eating disorder at the same time to get relief.

In addition to some of the shared risk factors from above, it is possible that the substance abuse and eating disorder will be similar in the types of characteristics that they can share with one another. The eating disorder and addiction will both be a type of chronic disease that has higher relapse rates. The patient may have the need for intensive therapy, be socially isolated, like the drugs and eating for the way that they alter their mood, and have extreme preoccupation and compulsive behavior.

There are a lot of similarities that exist between these two disorders. Whether the eating disorder or the drug abuse shows up in the individual first, they can start a perpetual cycle that is hard to work with. The patient will need to work through both of these issues in their treatment to make sure they do not relapse or get sick again.

Do I Need Concurrent Treatment for Both Issues?

When the patient suffers from an eating disorder and a drug abuse problem, they will need to go through the proper treatment channels to help keep and maintain their health. Too many times the patient will just handle one of the disorders at a time, assuming that this is the best way to take care of themselves. Or they may assume that one of the conditions is secondary and will go away on their own.

Since the characteristics and starting points of both disorders are so similar, it is impossible to treat one without the other. While you may be able to handle the drug abuse for some time on your own, when you do not handle the eating disorder too, you will just fall back into your old habits because many of the triggers are still there. The same can happen with the eating disorder. You may work to reduce the issues with the eating disorder, but if you still do drugs, the same triggers and side effects are still there.

The patient needs to work through both of these disorders at the same time to see the best results. Both of them can be severe conditions that need a lot of assistance to help the patient. They need to find the right treatment facility that is able to help with both of these conditions.

Drug Abuse and Eating Disorders Treatment Facilities

When the patient is suffering from a drug abuse and some form of an eating disorder, they will need to search for the right treatment facility to help them handle these issues. They will first need to choose the type of facility they would like to spend their time in. The two main options are inpatient and outpatient.

With an outpatient treatment, the patient will not stay at the facility overnight. They may show up for counseling and other options, but then can spend the night at their homes, go to work, and do other things. For the inpatient treatment, the patient will effectively move into the treatment facility as their home for a time to deal with the disorders. The inpatient treatments are often more effective because they allow the patient to focus solely on their recovery, but staying at one may not be possible for everyone.

The patient will also need to choose how long they will do the treatment. Since drug addiction and eating disorders are really tough conditions to break through, the patient should consider some of the longer treatment times to help them get through the condition. There are options for 30, 60, 90 day, 160 day and 365 day treatment, and the longer treatment times tend to be more effective for most patients.

The final thing to consider when choosing a facility is the aftercare program. Your medical team should work with you to come up with an aftercare program because the treatment will still need to happen as a lifelong journey for the patient when they leave the facility. Options like a support group and continued therapy will be helpful for the patient as they continue on their journey.

Types of Treatment for Drug Abuse and Eating Disorders

Treatment for an eating disorder and a drug addiction can be different in the specifics. The medical professional will work with the patient ahead of time to make sure that the treatment plan is personalized for the patient so they get the attention and care that they specifically need. Even though there are differences in the treatment plan for each individual, therapy is going to be an important thing for all patients to work through.

There are a number of treatments that are available to patients dealing with both an eating disorder and an addiction to a drug. Some of the most common options include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT is a type of therapy that has been around for some time and is effective at helping with addictions and eating disorders. This therapy is going to examine some of the ways the patient’s thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes will impact their behavior. It is an intensive therapy that will look at three main principles to help guide the patient. These include:

  1. The psychological issues that the patient has are based partly on unhelpful or illogical thinking.
  2. The psychological issues that the patient has are based party on behavioral patterns that are not helpful.
  3. The patient is able to effectively improve their own mental health by finding better ways of coping with their emotions and developing their own behavioral patterns.

When it is done with the help of a medical professional, the CBT therapy is great at preventing a relapse while giving patients all of the tools they need to cope with stressors and triggers that could make them fall back into their old addictions.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

This type of therapy is going to provide assistance to patients by placing more of the focus on their actions, rather than on their thoughts and feelings. Patients will learn how to identify which values are the most important to them. They can then create their own personalized goals to help correspond to those values.

One part of ACT is that it teaches people that anxiety and other emotions are normal, but they should not consume the patient. This is a useful form of therapy because it will encourage the patient to distance from their emotions so they can learn how to handle them in a more rewarding way. Positive actions stem from this and will generate positive feelings. This turns into a positive loop that can help the patient.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

DBT is another therapy option that can be used in a treatment center. This is effective for most eating disorders, but is also a great option when the patient has an eating disorder and other addiction to work through. The goal with DBT is to help reduce the number of unwanted behaviors the patient has. There are four elements that will be present in DBT including:

  1. Mindfulness: Patients will spend time learning how to access the emotions they have been hiding or unaware about. They can then learn the right skills to regulate these thoughts. Mindfulness is a simple way to help the patient shift their attention away from the negative thoughts and over to the positive ones.
  2. Distress tolerance: Everyone will have negative emotions and thoughts on occasion. The patient will learn how to accept these emotions without going back to their old habits and dealing with a relapse along the way.
  3. Emotional regulation: The patient will learn how to identify and then validate their emotions. The goal is not to get rid of all emotions. Having emotions is human. But the goal is to help the patient recognize, validate, and then choose which emotions they are willing to let come into their lives.
  4. Interpersonal effectiveness: Recovery can be difficult for someone who has problems with their self-esteem or who is unduly concerned with what others think of them. DBT is going to provide assistance for the patient, helping them to build and maintain relationships that also respect them.

These three therapies are the most commonly used at treatment centers to help when there is a dual diagnosis of drug addiction and an eating disorder present. The patient will need to work with the medical professional to determine which treatment option is best for them.