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How Are Eating Disorders and Drug Abuse Connected?

How Are Eating Disorders and Drug Abuse Connected?Eating disorders, substance abuse and addiction are closely connected in several ways. Albuquerque residents suffering from anorexia, bulimia or compulsive overeating are significantly more likely to become addicted to drugs or alcohol. This may happen as they attempt to self-medicate the serious distress their eating disorder causes.

Eating Disorders and Psychological Health

Through one system, the brain controls the following physiological and psychological functions:

  • Sleeping and waking
  • Motivation and optimism
  • Emotional health and moods
  • Sexual attraction and response
  • Panic response
  • Impulse control
  • Memory
  • Appetite and eating

The brain is designed to reinforce certain behaviors by releasing small amounts of “feel good” chemicals, such as endorphins and hormones. However, many Albuquerque residents also feel similar bursts of pleasure when they engage in unhealthy behaviors. Some people are more sensitive to these chemicals than others. It is this part of the brain that is responsible for compulsive behaviors (gambling, sex, stealing, lying and etc.). At their core, eating disorders are often about control, emotional distress, shame and anxiety. The chemical response created by hunger provides short-term psychological relief that the brain then demands continually.

Substance Abuse to Self-Medicate an Eating Disorder

In addition to the psychological distress of eating disorders, many affected individuals experience noticeable symptoms such as anger, shame, anxiety and depression. Substances such as drugs and alcohol provide instant, though short-lived, relief from these symptoms. The brain recognizes that relief and craves it in the same way it craves starvation. An Albuquerque teenager struggling with anorexia may become addicted the first time she takes a drink of alcohol or experiments with prescription medication, amphetamines or other drugs.

Treatment for Eating Disorders and Addiction

Many Albuquerque drug addicts suffer from at least one psychological disorder. In many cases a disorder such as anorexia or bulimia is also connected to depression, stress or other factors. In order for these individuals to recover from the eating disorder and addiction, they will require integrated treatment of all aspects of their struggles. Treating the addiction without addressing the eating disorder will almost certainly lead to relapse. Likewise, confronting the eating disorder without treating the addiction, depression or other emotional factors will prevent long-term recovery. Specialized programs carefully diagnose all aspects of their patients’ psychological and physical health, and then they will develop customized therapeutic treatment that allows for healing.

Most of the top eating disorder and addiction treatment plans involve several of the following elements:

  • Medically supervised detox
  • Personal counseling
  • Support group meetings
  • Education that empowers recovery
  • 12-step programs
  • Special coping and relaxation skill development

If Albuquerque residents seek the right help, they can recover from their issues.

Albuquerque Addiction Recovery

If you live in Albuquerque and would like personal, confidential answers to your questions about eating disorders and addiction recovery, please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline any time. Our counselors can connect you with the most successful treatment programs for your unique needs. If left untreated addiction and eating disorders will destroy your life long before they actually kill you. Don’t wait another day to seek help.