Addiction Treatment

Can Drug Abuse Cause an Eating Disorder?

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Often, certain mental disorders and substance abuse can go hand-in-hand, creating multiple problems for an individual all around the same time and each worsening the instance of the other. Therefore, there is a possibility that substance abuse could help cause an eating disorder.

Drug Abuse and Eating Habits

According to Indiana University, the different types of eating disorders “are considered to be addictive behaviors with no clear etiology.” As such, they can be caused by a number of problems and triggers, but these are usually thought to be issues with self-esteem, compulsiveness, and depression.

Drug abuse, however, has been known to cause negative changes in eating habits, which could possibly form into a disorder.

For example, those who abuse stimulants often become malnourished or lose a large amount of weight. Those who experience this result sometimes chose to abuse the drug for that very purpose in the first place. Other substances can cause weight gain. Overall, most addictive drugs will create issues with self-esteem and confidence, which often lead to unhealthy food intake.

Even if a person doesn’t start out having any issues associated with an eating disorder, it could begin to become a problem for them as their substance abuse increases.

Comorbidity: Disorders Interacting

It is common for a person who uses drugs to also suffer from a mental disorder; in fact, it is twice as likely for someone who practices substance abuse to have another disorder than those who do not and vice versa.

People not only develop issues with substance abuse as a way of coping with these disorders, but according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Drug abuse may bring about symptoms of another mental illness.”

In some situations, the symptoms of a disorder may have lain dormant before the individual’s substance abuse and became more intensified as a result, while for other individuals, a disorder can be directly caused by their drug abuse.

Either way, it is possible for one’s drug abuse or addiction to be a possible cause of an eating disorder, and while it is less likely than the opposite trajectory, any comorbid situation is dangerous and requires immediate treatment.

What Should I Do?

If you believe you could possibly be suffering from addiction and an eating disorder simultaneously, it is necessary to seek help right away. Although you may want to find out during treatment which issue originated first (if possible), it is important to be treated for both at the same time, as one issue going untreated will often unravel the work done on the other.

Seeking treatment for both issues at once is absolutely imperative, and many rehab centers offer treatments that will allow you to heal from both an eating disorder and an addiction in the same program.

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