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Eating Disorders and Alcohol Over-consumption Now Has a New Name: Drunkorexia

DrunkorexiaEating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are the most commonly discussed eating disorders, but there’s a new unhealthy habit that’s becoming more prevalent among teenagers and college students. “Drunkorexia,” a new term that’s being used by the media to describe the combination of disordered eating with heavy alcohol consumption isn’t just the collision of two unhealthy habits, it’s becoming a danger to long-term health.

A study done by Victoria Osborne, an Assistant Professor of Social Work and Public Health, examined the relationship between alcohol misuse and eating disorders, which included not only purging, but also caloric restriction. Her study showed that 16% of surveyors would “reserve” their calories for drinking, and that three times as many women reported it than men. The logic behind the calorie “reserve” is not only psychological – like preventing weight gain – but also economical, meaning individuals believe that by controlling their food consumption, they can become intoxicated more quickly and for less money.

The study showed that “drunkorexia” puts individuals at risk not just for more serious eating disorders, but also addiction problems. It also found that those who participate in binge drinking in combination with disordered eating were more likely to participate in risky sexual behavior and substance abuse, as well as have a higher tendency to develop chronic diseases later in life or become victims of violence or alcohol poisoning. Women were also found to be more prone to these consequences because of the way their bodies metabolize alcohol differently than men. They get sick faster and suffer organ damage sooner than men that consume the same amount of alcohol in addition to being more likely to suffer from disordered eating.

These dangerous or deadly consequences show the importance of educating individuals not only on the dangers of binge drinking, but also how dangerous the combination of alcohol abuse and disordered eating can be.

“It is important that young people understand the risks of this behavior,” Osborne said. “We teach college students about the dangers of binge drinking, but most of them do not consider the long-term health consequences of disordered eating and heavy drinking, either alone or combined.”

It’s important to know when something like enjoying a drink escalates into something more. If you’re worried about someone you know or you find yourself banking calories to save for a cocktail or two, seek help from a professional program and educate yourself on the dangers of alcoholism and eating disorders.

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