Drunkorexia and Bulimia: A Dangerous Combination

College girl leaning on tree reading a book

Contributor: Staff at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center

Alcohol has been a fixture on college and university campuses for many generations. The same cannot be said for drunkorexia, which is a fairly new phenomenon. This condition is the result of a combination of three factors: food restriction, bulimia, and alcohol abuse. This allows drunkorexia and bulimia to meld together so easily.

It is unique to females. Essentially, drunkorexia is when an individual consumes little to no food throughout the day then drinks an enormous amount of alcohol during the nighttime hours.

Although starvation is a part of the equation, these young women are not anorexic. By and large, those with anorexia do not involve themselves with alcohol, since it is seen as “fattening.”

Moreover, the idea of drunkenness engenders anxiety and the fear of losing control. Maintaining absolute control is fundamental to anorexia. It is what keeps them strong when they want desperately to eat.

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If that tight grip is lost, they might fall victim to the temptation of food. This is why drunkorexia and bulimia go together so well.

A student may begin an evening drinking a large amount of beer or other beverages to get intoxicated. This desire for intoxication is rarely just to be part of the college experience.

It is typically linked to the need to suppress painful thoughts and feelings. Inebriation is an unhealthy method of coping with emotions.

Perhaps she views herself as inadequate, unworthy of being in the collegian environment. Or, she believes herself to be less attractive than her peers.

Woman struggling with grief and antidepressant withdrawalOr, she has never resolved the abuse she endured during her childhood. It could be any number of things that she is trying to escape.

Once troublesome emotions retreat, and inhibitions are relaxed, she slakes her hunger through bingeing.

Per the illness, this is followed by purging, which is actually made easier by the high volume of liquid initially consumed.

Once the food has been eradicated, she may drink more alcohol to continue the state of intoxication. Every single aspect of drunkorexia is worrisome.

With no food on board, a young woman becomes drunker, faster—she may even blackout. An immediate and frightening medical repercussion is alcohol poisoning. If not treated within a reasonable amount of time, she could die.

The sheer act of inducing vomiting on a regular basis is alarming on its own. At the moment, it could instigate a heart attack. Over time, it can cause an esophageal tear, which can also lead to death.

The long-term consequences are equally disturbing. Alcohol has little to no nutritional value, often referred to as empty calories. Therefore, after months of this behavior, this woman could suffer from genuine malnutrition.

Lady dealing with drunkorexia and bulimiaThis causes many health problems, including a compromised immune system, muscle weakness, and decreased bone mass.

What’s more, routine and extreme drinking during the college years can set up an individual to struggle with alcoholism throughout her entire life.

Fortunately, with appropriate treatment, drunkorexia and bulimia can be overcome, and the college years can be defined by health and happiness.

If you, or someone you know, struggles with an eating disorder, a problem with alcohol, or both, please locate a counselor and get the help needed.

About Our Sponsor:

Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center provides quality, holistic care to women and adolescent girls ages 12 and older. We treat individuals struggling to overcome eating disorders, substance abuse, mood and anxiety disorders, trauma and post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD), and co-occurring disorders. Our campus is located on 43 wooded acres just outside Chicago. This peaceful setting offers an ideal environment for women and girls to focus on recovery.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed & Approved on September 9, 2019, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC
Published September 9, 2019, on EatingDisorderHope.com

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He is responsible for the operations of Eating Disorder Hope and ensuring that the website is functioning smoothly.