Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders: What Families Need to Know

eating disorderFamily members play a big role in recovery — and education can help you get your loved one proper treatment. Being educated about both eating disorders and addiction will also help to prevent the blame game and, of course, it will help to give you hope and guidance as you support your loved one during the recovery process.

To get you started, we pulled together some must-know facts about addiction and eating disorders from the National Eating Disorder Association:

  • Nearly 50% of individuals with an eating disorder (ED) are also abusing drugs and/or alcohol, a rate five times greater than what’s seen in the general population.
  • The co-occurrence of these disorders affects both men and women, with up to 57% of males with binge eating disorder experiencing lifelong substance abuse problems.
  • Eating disorders and substance abuse are independently correlated with higher than expected rates of death both from medical complications as well as suicide.
  • Substance abuse and eating disorders are both influenced by genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.
  • Multiple shared neurotransmitters are thought to be involved in both eating and substance use disorders.
  • Alcohol abuse is common among those with eating disorders, often used to facilitate regurgitation and dehydration. In addition to alcohol and illicit drugs, individuals with eating disorders also abuse prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
  • Substance abuse can develop before, during or after treatment for an eating disorder. In some cases, substance can cause appetite suppression leading to significant weight loss that can trigger the onset of an eating disorder.
  • Treatment that attempts to address both disorders in an integrated way holds promise to help reduce the all-too common pattern of patients vacillating between their eating disorder and substance abuse.
  • A supportive family has been shown to be helpful for successful recovery from both an eating disorder and substance use disorder.
  • There’s help out there for families, too. For instance, individual or family therapy and/or online and in-person support groups.

Help for Families in Florida
Dealing with a loved one’s addiction and/or an eating disorder as a family member or friend is often stressful, frustrating and emotionally painful. At Synergy, we provide an intensive family care program to help both loved ones and clients heal together. To learn more, call today: 888-267-8070.

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