Co-occurring disorders can come in the form of common links between particular drugs and associated mental health issues. The effects of certain drugs can influence or provide relief to specific symptoms of disorders, making them more likely to be an issue of addiction for someone that disorder. In the case of patients with anorexia, a number of different drugs may be used in conjunction with the illness but cocaine is one of the most highly prevalent for many people suffering from this devastating eating disorder.
The link between cocaine and anorexia is becoming more and more apparent to researchers who study the relationship between substance abuse and eating disorders. People with eating disorders like anorexia tend to abuse drugs more heavily with 50 percent of people with eating disorders abusing drugs and/or alcohol at a rate of 5 times greater than the general population. This level of abuse combined with extreme eating habits leads to a higher death rate for people suffering from this type of co-occurring disorder. Cocaine abuse and anorexia can be a dangerous combination with fatal consequences.
Appetite and Cocaine Use
Cocaine is a highly potent and addictive narcotic central nervous stimulant that is known to suppress the appetite. People with cocaine addictions tend to lose a dramatic amount of weight in a short period of time even if they are not dealing with any kind of eating disorder. The drug tends to be extremely addictive because it provides the user with a brief but intense high that only lasts about fifteen minutes. Once the effects of the drug wear off, the user already wants more to maintain their high. Because cocaine is known to seriously suppress a person’s appetite it is not surprising that people suffering from anorexia get involved in cocaine use. Studies show that their eating disorder tends to precede their drug use or the two problems develop simultaneously.
Drastic Measures for Weight Loss
People with anorexia are in a constant state of fear that they are too fat and need to lose more weight. They will take any measure they can to fuel their distorted body image and achieve a weight that is dangerously thin and unhealthy. People with anorexia will be highly conscious of their calorie intake and may restrict their calories to an extremely low number below the level of starvation. They often use drastic methods to prevent weight gain with extreme exercise, laxative abuse or self-induced vomiting.
People with anorexia, especially in the case of young women, may begin experimenting with cocaine as a part of their methods of reducing their appetite. They want to avoid experiencing the type of hunger that goes along with their dangerous diets and cocaine offers them a means of escaping the pangs of starvation. Other drug use can be a problem with anorexia such alcohol consumption to alleviate the depression that typically goes hand in hand with eating disorders but cocaine is one of the few drugs that offers weight loss which is the most important thing to them. Studies show that girls with eating disorders are nearly four times more likely to use cocaine than those without any disordered symptoms.
Because drug use and eating disorders are often connected, it is important for patients with both issues to receive treatment for each problem simultaneously. If a patient with anorexia is not treated for their cocaine abuse or vice versa, they run the risk of relapsing and harming themselves even further. For people with a cocaine problem and a diagnosis of anorexia it will take some time and effort for them to become physically and mentally healthy again. With dual diagnosis treatment they have the chance to recover from their self-destructive habits and heal in a supportive environment.