Beer_Drunkorexia Recently I’ve been noticing more conversations online about the relationship between anorexia or bulimia and alcoholism, with a lot of controversy attached.  This article focuses more on the link between alcoholism and anorexia, but classifying it as a completely separate disease called “Drunkorexia”.  (If they ever crowned the most unflattering name for a disorder, this might just be it.)  The author cites studies that say women in particular are restricting their caloric intake to alcohol and not much else to get drunk faster, reserve money for partying rather than food, and (of course) keeping a low weight.

Drunkorexia While these reasons may be the superficial illusions of truth, I believe there’s something much more insidious at work here.  Within my own recovery circles, many women recovering from eating disorders also have histories of alcohol abuse – but most often, they’ve dabbled in drug, sex, and gambling abuse as well.  Many of us are workaholics, have or have had codependent relationships, and run to the mall to spend our stress away.  The reason?  We have a deep hole within us that we desperately need to fill with something, be it alcohol, love, heroin, shopping, exercise, work, marijuana, and of course, anorexia or bulimia.  When one of these stops working for us – no longer satisfies that void – we turn to another, since we cannot bear that empty hole for long.

This is what we call addiction-switching.  Most of us find that anorexia or bulimia (or some combination of both) fills that hole most effectively.  It’s our go-to drug, as it were.  But sometimes we find it no longer satisfies, or cannot satisfy us enough.  Or, perhaps in reluctant recovery, we grope around for the nearest alternative to our drug of choice.  Maybe anorexia and bulimia has become too exhausting, so we reach for something else.  Even more common, we use drugs and alcohol to further our eating disorder efforts – or to drown out the torture of our eating disordered obsession once it has taken over our minds.  We find relief in a bottle, a needle, a new lover, the casino, a heavier workload, the gym, or the store.

Martini_Drunkorexia It’s a dangerous spiral that our minds as addicted anorexics and bulimics pull us into.  It sneaks up on us as we find life harder to bear, as that painful hole seems colder and even more endless.  Of ourselves, we are powerless against it.  That’s why the only thing that’s given me true and lasting relief is a program of recovery with a life-long solution, worked among a fellowship of like-minded people.  Among others who know the darkness of that hole we all need to fill.  For me, it’s Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous – a program based on the same Twelve Steps that have saved alcoholics, addicts, codependents, workaholics, and their families time and time again since the 1930’s.  What will it be for you?