“Drunkorexia” is a colloquial term combining an eating disorder and binge drinking. It is the practice of offsetting calories from binge drinking by skipping meals or purging so that the binge drinking doesn’t lead to weight gain. While the practice is particularly common among college aged women, men do it as well. A study by the University of Missouri found that about 30 percent of female students didn’t eat so they could drink more within the past year. While men do this too, they may be more likely to skip meals to save money for alcohol, or eat less so they can get drunk more quickly. The University of Missouri study found that of those surveyed, 21 percent restricted food to get drunk more quickly, while 67 percent restricted food before drinking to prevent weight gain. Symptoms of drunkorexia include counting calories to be sure drinking won’t put you over the limit, restricting food to make sure you have enough calories to drink, exercising excessively to offset calories you anticipate drinking, or intentionally drinking so much that you vomit the alcohol and food. While skipping meals to make room for drinking might sound practical in the context of college party culture, it is actually a terrible idea with potentially dangerous consequences. First, it combines two dangerous habits: eating disorders and substance use. While counting calories may be sensible, it is only healthy in the context a nutritious diet and skipping meals in favor of alcohol is certainly not nutritious. Exercising to make room for alcohol is also a dangerous habit and encourages the obsessive calories-in-calories-out thinking characteristic of eating disorders. Second, binge drinking on an empty stomach is a bad idea for many reasons. It causes your blood alcohol content to rise quickly, which increases your likelihood of experiencing a blackout or alcohol poisoning. Even under normal circumstances, binge drinking increases your risk of accidents and bad decisions and may lead to dependence and addiction. In the long term, skipping meals to drink can lead to malnutrition. Alcohol already impairs the digestive system’s ability to absorb many nutrients. Restricting nutrition on top of that can lead to health problems even more quickly. Finally, there is already a close association between substance use disorders and eating disorders. Eating disorders and addictions can reinforce each other. Substance use can lead to eating disorders by way of behaviors like drunkorexia or eating disorders may lead to substance use such as when people use amphetamines or other stimulants to lose weight. Both eating disorders and addiction may be ways of coping with stress and reducing anxiety. Addiction and eating disorders may have a similar biological basis as well.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or an eating disorder, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.