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The Life Works Community Blog

The rise of "Drunkorexia"

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A possible new disorder is arising amongst young people that many would consider shocking. Abstaining from eating with the intention of later drinking in excess has become popular for some students. The dangers of drinking to excess are well documented, but drinking to excess without eating properly could be even more disastrous.

Life Works is a highly respected treatment centre for a number of behavioural health issues, including addiction to alcohol, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, co-dependency and gambling. These conditions are often considered in isolation, but in reality an individual may well have a dual diagnosis – in other words there are addiction issues in more than one area. Drink and drug addiction are often a focus for dual diagnosis, as is alcohol abuse and depression, but rarely does eating disorders and alcoholism come under the spotlight. Discovery News reported this week on the rise in America of the newly termed “Drunkorexia” and the dangers involved.

Restricting diet for the sake of an alcohol Binge


Drunkorexia is a new term which is being employed to describe the rise of cases being recognised whereby there appears to be an element of eating disorder and alcohol abuse. The behavioural pattern appears to be within individuals who are attempting to keep to a restrictive diet, and at the same time wish to take part in excessive drinking binges. Researchers have noticed this is significantly prominent in young people and especially college students.

College students in danger


Alcohol is very much part of college culture and often at the core of how students socialise. It was found that students may forego eating properly in order to binge drink in an evening. It was also found that men were more likely to drink on an empty stomach because they were aware they were more likely to become intoxicated faster. The reason women were showing these patterns of behaviour was also because of the need to sacrifice food for alcohol but more essentially, at the milder end of the spectrum they were saving on calories. In other words, if they were going to watch calories –it was food they would miss out on. Obviously where there is a significant eating disorder the outcome could be disastrous.

Researchers said what makes Drunkorexia so dangerous, is that while the individual was depriving the brain of energy and nutrients they were also exposing it to alcohol. People who restricted calories or purged in anticipation of a night of drinking were more likely to experience substance abuse problems.

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