Eating Disorders Awareness Week runs from 25th February to 3rd March 2019. It’s a chance to increase awareness of eating disorders, break down stigma and share recovery stories.
At Addiction Helper, we support people across the nation to find the right treatment for their eating disorder. Often people come to us with a dual diagnosis, where they have an eating disorder and co-occurring addiction(s) or mental illness. We carry out a free, confidential assessment with all our clients so that we can uncover as much detail as possible about your health and background. This helps us to advise you on the most effective treatment options, tailored to your individual needs.
In this blog for Eating Disorders Awareness Week, we’ll explain why it’s never too early to get help with your eating disorder. There are many different types of eating disorder – so it’s essential that the treatment professionals you work with have the right skills and experience to treat your specific condition. We’ll also describe how other addictions often mask an underlying problem with eating – a thorough assessment often uncovers this or it may be discovered during your treatment process.
Eating Disorders – Get Help Early with Food Addiction
This is the most important message we have to give you – not just in Eating Disorders Awareness Week, but at all times. It’s a straightforward message, backed up by evidence on treatment success rates:
The earlier you get help with an eating disorder, the better your chance of recovery.
So, if you know you’re struggling with food addiction, or someone you love is, then please come forward for help. The sooner you reach out for help with an eating disorder; the more treatment choices are open to you – including specialist outpatient counselling or short residential programmes.
When eating disorders progress, treatment options become more restricted. If you are severely malnourished, underweight or at risk of suicide, then a period in hospital is often required before you can undergo effective therapy. Once you have stabilised, then residential rehabilitation is often the best approach, where professional support is available to you around the clock. You may need an extended period in residential treatment, to achieve a sustainable recovery. Some people also benefit from longer-term secondary care.
Eating Disorders – They’re Not All the Same
At Addiction Helper, we understand the different types of eating disorders. You can visit the Addiction Helper Eating Disorders page for a full description of anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, pica, rumination disorder, avoidant or restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) and other lesser-known eating disorders that have also been classified.
We take all eating disorders as seriously as each other. If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, you don’t need to try and diagnose the specific condition(s) you have. All you need to do is start the process of getting help. Please call Addiction Helper for a free assessment.
How Other Addictions Can Mask Eating Disorders
Alcohol addiction and eating disorders
Alcoholism may feel like the most obvious and harmful problem you have. Are you binge drinking every time you go out? Or relying on alcohol to get through the day? If so, then please speak to Addiction Helper about alcohol treatment.
But is there a connection between excessive drinking and the way you eat? Did you develop a drinking problem because you were restricting your food? Do alcohol and binge-eating go hand in hand? Have you tried to stop drinking before, only to get addicted to sugar?
It’s also really common for alcohol addicts to discover in treatment that they are malnourished. The combination of excessive alcohol and poor diet depletes essential vitamins and minerals in the body, as well as affecting hydration levels, vital organs and bodily systems. Proper nutrition is vital to restoring your health – but what if you have an untreated eating disorder?
By going through alcohol detox and rehab, you’ll become much more aware of your relationship with food. Once detoxed, most alcohol addicts find their appetite returns to normal. This can be a source of enjoyment and pleasure for many people, who haven’t eaten a balanced diet in years. For people with underlying food addiction, however, the shift in appetite may be a source of tremendous anxiety. Anorexics may feel an even greater compulsion to restrict their food. Bulimics or binge eaters may turn to sugary foods for a fix, replacing the sugar they once consumed in alcoholic drinks with processed food. People with orthorexia may become very fixated on eating the ‘clean’ foods, to feel a sense of control.
Effective addiction treatment will support you through this process. It will reveal the full picture of what’s going on for you so that you can make positive change.
Drug addiction and eating disorders
Many people call Addiction Helper for advice about treatment for addiction to illegal or prescription drugs. Certain illicit drugs are known to suppress appetite, including cocaine and amphetamines. There is also a wide range of ‘diet pills’, which people sometimes obtain from doctors, but very often online or from the black market.
Where drugs are being used for the specific purpose of restricting or altering eating patterns, this indicates an underlying eating disorder that also needs specialist help.
As with alcohol, by going through drug detox and rehab, your underlying patterns and processes around food will become much clearer. With professional help, you will find new ways to live without all your addictive habits.
Nicotine addiction, caffeine addiction and eating disorders
Nicotine and caffeine can be used to suppress appetite. You may have a pattern of smoking and drinking strong coffee or tea, to skip meals or reduce food intake.
Awareness is key around how you use stimulants like nicotine and caffeine to alter the way you eat. Once you can understand your patterns, you will have choices you can make about what supports or hinders your recovery.
Exercise addiction and eating disorders
Exercise is often motivated by the pursuit of a fitness goal, losing weight, gaining strength or attaining an ideal body shape. These can all be very positive and life-enhancing aims. Research shows that physical activity improves mental and physical health, including preventing or rehabilitating major diseases such as heart disease, depression, cancer or stroke.
In the long run, over-exercising does much more harm than good. When it’s used compulsively, exercise is just like any other addiction. It’s about avoiding or numbing painful feelings while trying to feel greater control or happiness. Short term highs from exercise addiction soon fade. It’s impossible to outrun the negative consequences of addiction forever.
In terms of the connection with food disorders, exercise can become extremely addictive. If you’re pursuing extreme thinness or very unattainable body shape, for example, your exercise routine may be very punishing. Over-exercising can also be a cyclical reaction to overeating or binge eating disorder, attempting to ease shame or physical discomfort.
If you’re affected by an eating disorder, including if you have another addiction, then treatment can help you achieve sustainable recovery. Please contact Addiction Helper today.