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Sober Nation

Putting Recovery On The Map

01-20-12 | By

Similarities of Eating Disorders and Addictions

There are some similarities between the signs of addiction and the signs of eating disorders. There are similarities not only in signs and symptoms but also in reasons for being entrenched in the two behaviors. I recently read a webpage article from and wanted to use their information as a way to show the similarities between drug addiction and eating disorder addiction. The article is Drug Abuse and Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, and Help for Drug Problems and Substance Abuse (Source: Help Guide). I will break down the article in several parts. In part 1, I will compare the section that addresses why some people become addicted and others do not to why some people develop eating disorders and others do not.

eating disorders

In the section “why do some drug users become addicted, while others do not?” I can relate some of the information to having an eating disorder.

Family history of addiction

Not all, but many people with eating disorders have a family history of eating disorders as well. There has been research done about a possible genetic link in families with eating disorders. In my family, although no one but myself was diagnosed, I look back at some actions and believe my father had an eating disorder. He was always worried about how much he ate and how much he weighed or what he looked like.

Abuse, neglect, or other traumatic experiences in childhood

Many victims of eating disorders have a traumatic past filled with abuse, neglect, or other issues that cause them to look at themselves in a negative fashion. The abuse is not always physical or sexual but often mental.

Mental disorders such as depression and anxiety

There are quite a few people with eating disorders that suffer from depression and anxiety before they become disordered. Some suffer from other mental health disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder.

The early use of drugs

I think the best relationship I can find for this is the earlier the onset of the disease the harder it is to stop. A person that starts off using food or starvation to cope with problems at an early age is more likely to use that behavior consistently through life.
“Method of administration—smoking or injecting a drug may increase its addictive potential.”

In this last point it is the method of criticism that contributes to the likely hood of becoming entrenched in an eating disorder. People that hear from their family that they are too fat or too thin or too anything are most likely (not always) to develop an eating disorder. In today’s world, there are other sources of criticism that contribute to what is heard from respected family members. The media and friends can play a role in the view of the self. Combine this together and there is a definite potential for an eating disorder.

Not everyone that experiences these things in their lives will become drug addicts or have an eating disorder. There are many factors that do not seem to be completely understood in both the medical and mental health fields. There are many people that have eating disorders and suffer from drug addictions at the same time. In fact, this is quite common. I find that being treated as an addict when having an eating disorder is sometimes more effective than being treated as having an eating disorder. Some of the recovery concepts are the same but I do not think many have looked at using similar treatment strategies. My eating disorder was my best friend, the thing I could turn to when no one could relate to me. Alcohol was my best friend, the thing I could turn to when no one could understand my thoughts.

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