A dual diagnosis of bulimia and alcoholism is surprisingly becoming more common, especially among women. Studies have recently revealed that individuals who suffer from bulimia are more likely to also become alcoholics when compared to others with eating disorders. In general, alcoholism, heavy drinking, and binge drinking are on the rise among Americans. On its own, alcoholism can have a profoundly destructive impact on a person’s life, and when combined with an eating disorder like bulimia, can become devastating to a person’s health and well being.
Bulimia can worsen the effects of alcohol abuse on the body and vise versa. Struggling with both disorders also creates a much bigger hurdle to seeking and getting help. It’s important to get dual diagnosis treatment in cases like this. Because a person so often struggles with the disorders in silence and friends and family don’t notice a change in weight or appearance, treatment is often delayed. Oftentimes bulimia and alcoholism go on unnoticed until it’s too late.
How does alcohol abuse damage a person’s health?
Regular heavy drinking can lead to a number of physical ailments, including impacting the body’s immune system. A weakened immune system makes it more difficult for the body to fight illness and diseases, as well as issues that are caused by an eating disorder such as bulimia. The following are some of the health problems commonly caused by alcohol abuse:
-Risk of stroke
-Raised blood pressure
-Liver fibrosis or cirrhosis
-Increased risk of cancer of the mouth, breast, esophagus, or throat
How does an eating disorder like bulimia exacerbate the effects of alcoholism?
Bulimia on its own has a profound effect on a person’s health, leading to several issues including:
-Erosion of tooth enamel
-Impacting gastric capacity
-Impacting intestinal functioning
Because alcohol is already an inflammatory substance that causes ulcers and other gastrointestinal issues, it can have particularly damaging effects on someone who is bulimic. The repeated exposure to alcohol makes the effects of bulimia more severe, further exposing inflamed areas to harsh stomach acids and speeding up the effects of alcoholism mentioned above.
What are the psychological causes of bulimia and alcoholism?
The reasons for the prevalence of alcoholism and bulimia are still unclear. One study suggests that the two disorders often occur together because of a common emotional deficiency that a person is trying to cope with. Many women with bulimia and alcoholism reported that they felt something lacking when it came to their emotional well being. They said that they used alcohol, food, and sometimes drugs to cope with their unpleasant emotions. This evidence, along with the results of other studies done on the subject, reinforces the need for psychological treatment along with improving nutrition and physical health when it comes to recovery. Bulimia and alcoholism are not just devastating to a person’s physical health, their mental health suffers as well.
Are there other co-occurring disorders that are common with bulimia and alcoholism?
Recent studies have revealed that those who struggle with both alcoholism and bulimia are also prone to a number of other disorders. Some of the most common are post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression. Women especially appear the most prone to developing these mental disorders. In order for recovery to be possible, treatment should address all disorders and provide specialized treatment for each of them.