Drunkorexia is a slang term for an eating disorder involving alcohol.  This is not a classified psychiatric diagnosis but rather a word that describes college students, primarily females, who restrict calories throughout the day, so they can binge drink at night without fear of gaining weight.  Despite the term being slang, drunkorexia is a serious problem with physical and psychological ramifications.

In one recent study, 16 percent of those individuals surveyed admitted to restricting calories to save those calories for drinking.  Three times as many women as men have reported drunkorexia behavior.  The reasons given for this behavior include not wanting to gain weight and a desire to get drunk faster.  Many also use the money they would have used on food to buy alcohol.

This behavior can lead to the development of an eating disorder and an addiction because eating disorders and addiction share similar compulsive behaviors.  Researchers argue that when an individual’s behavior is reinforced for one addiction the likelihood for developing another addiction is increased.

There are of course risks associated with drunkorexia including getting drunk faster, loss of self-control, poor decision-making ability, nutritional deficiencies, purging after binge eating, and binge eating because of hunger.  Other reports include difficulties with concentration, loss of study time, blackouts, risky sexual behavior, alcohol poisoning, and chronic diseases such as high-blood pressure and heart disease.  Since women metabolize alcohol differently than men; women are at a higher risk of getting sicker more quickly and suffering from organ damage at a faster rate.

There is no specific treatment for drunkorexia; however, a co-occurring substance use and mental health disorder can be treated with comprehensive care.  Qualified professionals can treat both the alcohol use and the eating disorder to restore the individual’s health and psychological well-being.  Individuals would likely receive nutritional counseling in treatment as well as cognitive behavioral therapy to recognize and change negative thought processes.  Twelve step groups are also useful, and individuals can attend groups such as Eating Disorders Anonymous and/or Alcoholics Anonymous.

In treatment, individuals will learn how to eat healthy meals, engage in regular exercise practices, and how to balance life during recovery.

If you have an eating or substance use disorder, call Hired Power today.  We can help.  (800) 910-9299.