Fundamental to the Mission of Ocean Recovery
We’ve touched on this subject briefly in a dual diagnosis blog from a few months back as well as the drunkorexia post more recently. However, this week I’d like to get into it a little more deeply. This concern is both close to my heart and fundamental to the mission of Ocean Recovery. Researchers have studied the relationship between substance abuse and eating disorders extensively. A three-year study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University shows that up to 50% of individuals who suffer from an eating disorder also deal with some type of substance abuse issue. Compare this to 9% of the general population. And because of the health risks associated with both disorders and the way they complicate each other, mortality rates for these individuals skyrocket. But why, exactly, is there such a strong connection between eating disorders and addiction?
A Combination of Physical and Environmental Factors
Unfortunately, we don’t have a definitive answer yet. Scientists consider substance abuse disorders to be the result of physical factors, such as genetics and biopsychology, as well as social and environmental elements like upbringing and trauma. There is no single cause of addiction. Furthermore, it is the same combination of physical and environmental factors that has the potential to cause eating disorders. One of these physical factors shared by the two types of disorders concerns the brain’s reward center. Substances such as drugs, alcohol, and food can activate this reward center. Similarly, activities such as exercise and receiving praise can also activate it. Both types of disorders attempt to manipulate this reward center to produce the desired feelings.
A Means of Control
Environmental factors such as traumatic experiences can vary widely. However, the way people suffering from eating disorders and addiction deal with these experiences is often very similar. From a wide perspective, it is all about control. This is where the environmental element and the physical factors, specifically the reward center, overlap. Traumatic experiences cause extreme emotions along with depression, anxiety, and stress and these disorders are in part an attempt to control these emotions and mental states. It’s not unlike when a non-alcoholic individual has a cocktail at the end of a hard day of work. The difference is both a genetic predisposition towards addictive behavior and a much more difficult experience than a rough day at the office.
The Good News About Eating Disorders and Addiction
If there is a bright spot to this blog full of tough news to take, it’s that substance abuse disorders and eating disorders are both treatable. Cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and EMDR are all effective treatment modalities for eating disorders and addiction. Ocean Recovery specializes in treating both substance abuse and eating disorders. We also offer all three of these services as well as nutritional counseling, group therapy, and more. We want to help get individuals in the best possible position for success. If you or someone you love is suffering from one or both of these disorders, please give us a call today.