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The Journey of Eating Disorder Recovery That Many Addicts Face

by | Last updated Oct 5, 2020 at 9:30AM | Published on Mar 20, 2020 | Eating Disorders, Health and Wellness

Red-haired anorexic woman feeling vulnerable suffering from eating disorder

Many addicts and alcoholics are also on a journey of eating disorder recovery. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, up to 50 percent of all people who suffer from an eating disorder have a history of substance abuse. Eating disorder recovery is lifesaving.

Of all mental illnesses, eating disorders have the highest rate of fatality. For addicts suffering from an eating disorder, addressing this problem is an integral part of a happy, healthy life.

What Are Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders are illnesses in which people experience severe disturbances in their eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions. Eating disorders affect several million people at any given time, most often women between the ages of 12 and 35.

In many cases, eating disorders occur together with other psychiatric disorders like anxiety, panic, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and alcohol and drug abuse problems. Some evidence points at a genetic relation to these disorders. However, there are countless occasions in which people with no family history of eating disorders develop these illnesses. 

The Most Common Eating Disorders

The two most commonly diagnosed eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia. Anorexia is a disorder that causes individuals to restrict their food intake to dangerously low amounts. People suffering from anorexia often lose significant amounts of weight and suffer from anxiety and preoccupation with food and body image. 

Long-term effects include fainting, decreased immune function, hair loss, poor cognition, cardiovascular and organ damage, and death.

Bulimia nervosa involves binging on foods and purging them, either by self-induced vomiting or laxative abuse. Sufferers can face preoccupation with food and body image, rapid weight gain and loss, dental problems, sleep problems, intestinal issues, cardiovascular problems, and many other serious health issues.

Other eating disorders include binge eating disorder, orthorexia, unspecified eating disorders, and ARFID (avoidant restrictive food intake disorder).

The Link Between Eating Disorder Recovery and Addiction Recovery

Each case is different. However, experts think that some of the factors that cause eating disorders include having a family history of eating disorders, underlying mental health conditions (especially anxiety), severe stress or trauma, limited social support, and social pressure.

Many of these factors also contribute to developing substance use disorder. For example, people who have a history of childhood trauma or a family history of mental illness have a higher risk of forming an addiction.

For people who experience these risk factors, developing both an eating disorder and addiction is an expected outcome. Just as eating disorders and addiction have shared links, so do eating disorder recovery and substance abuse recovery.

For both conditions, the first step towards recovery is becoming open, honest, and willing to seek help. Addressing triggers, developing coping skills and a support network, shifting distorted thinking, and even participating in a twelve-step program are common elements of eating disorder recovery and addiction recovery.

Other organizations, like the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness, also offer access to free weekly online support groups that can provide a valuable space for those struggling with eating disorders.

Many of the therapies used for one condition are useful for the other. The key to recovery for both is replacing unhealthy, obsessive, destructive behaviors with new ways of thinking and behaving. For people seeking help with addiction and eating disorder issues, many treatment programs offer dual-diagnosis care.

Seeking Help

At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we offer high-quality, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorder and dual diagnosis disorders. It’s essential, however, that people suffering from an eating disorder obtain help for that alongside their addiction. Thus, much of our therapy focuses on addressing the whole patient, not just the symptoms of addiction. 

We proudly offer nutrition and fitness support, individual therapy focused on coping skills and replacing obsessive, destructive behaviors, and group sessions that focus on the causes and solutions for co-occurring disorders.

We also focus on addressing underlying causes such as anxiety and depression, medical conditions, and trauma. Also, our model of care includes twelve-step facilitation, dual-diagnosis treatment, and highly individualized care to address not only addiction but many of the conditions that come with it. So, if you are ready to make the first step towards recovery, call us today.



Molly is Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s Case Manager and Vocational Services. She has a Bachelor’s in International Relations, is a Certified Addiction Counselor, and it’s currently working towards her Master’s in Social Work. Molly’s experience allows her to provide expert knowledge about solution-based methods to help people in recovery maintain long-term sobriety.
Medical Disclaimer:

Lighthouse Recovery Institute aims to improve the quality of life for anyone struggling with substance use or mental health disorder. We provide fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their outcomes. The material we publish is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide in our posts is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider.

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