The Complicated Issue of Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse

What is a dual diagnosis? Answer: more than one health diagnosis ocurring simultaneously with another.

Regarding eating disorders and substance abuse, the rule of thumb used to be, sober a person first, with a sobriety foundation/lifestyle, then start treating the co-existing condition. However, sometimes not treating co-existing conditions simultaneously, means the non-treated condition has a high potential of sabotaging the treatment of the other condition. For instance, not treating an existing eating disorder condition could sabotage the treatment of the substance abuse condition and vice-versa.

First things, first. If there is any question as to the existance of an eating disorder or substance abuse addiction, or both, the important step is to secure help from qualified individuals. The sooner treatment begins, the sooner begins the improvement of the quality of one’s life.

Linkage between Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse

According to Joseph A. Califano Jr., the President of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University,”… anorexia and bulimia are joined at the hip with smoking, binge drinking and illicit drug use. warning is, if there is one condition, there is a great likelihood of the existence of the other.

Substances like heroin and cocaine suppress the appetite. Cocaine increases metabolism. Additionally, heroin is sometimes used with cocaine to take the edge off the crash (intense depression) experienced as the cocaine is wearing off. People who use these drugs are at a high risk of doing severe, possibly irreversible damage to their bodies as well as their brains. Such is the high level of addiction, that, without help, in a large number of cases, it is exceedingly difficult to stop use without some form of intervention and treatment.

Kate Moss Super Model, Addict, Skin and Bones

Whether Moss began using drugs to keep the skinny look for model shoots, is unknown. What is known, however, is the use of cocaine and heroin have turned this woman into a walking skeleton within an industry that extols bony frames. She did, however enter recovery in 2006.

“In other words, the bodies that appeal to designers–and thus to consumers is a body that looks like it has been ravaged by drugs. In order to stay employed, models must maintain this shape.” (Rebecca Traister, “The Rise and Fall of Kate Moss”, Breaking News.com., September 23, 2005).

The psychology behind the advertising is simple–produce images that will make women hate their bodies and thus, they will buy the product to feel better about themselves.

Treating Dual Diagnoses

Because conditions manifesting themselves may mimic each other or other conditions, a thorough evaluation is necessary. Depending upon the area and availability of resources, as well as the seriousness of the condition(s), this could mean an outpatient evaluation or an inpatient evaluation. If, as a reader, any of the information presented is waving red flags, talk with a primary care physician, visit the emergency room, connect with the crises response units, and/or call the local hospital. There is help available.

If insurance or finances to pay for treatment are a problem, local providers may be able to help find funding resources.