What Is Drunkorexia?
College is an exciting time. But it can all be filled with pressure and tough choices, leading to self-esteem issues and bad decisions. This leads many students to struggle with eating disorders or alcohol addiction. Struggling with either of these issues can be challenging. But for students who suffer from drunkorexia, the consequences can be even worse.
What is drunkorexia?
Drunkorexia refers to behavior in which someone combines disordered eating (particularly starving and binging) with excessive alcohol use. Despite the name, drunkorexia is actually more similar to bulimia than anorexia. Like bulimia, someone exhibiting drunkorexic behavior will minimize their food intake, or not eat entirely, and then binge on an extreme amount of food later. Since excessive alcohol consumption often leads to vomiting, it allows for the person to purge the food they binged.
Similarly, those worried about the high calories of alcohol might choose to limit their food intake before a night of drinking, so that they can drink without worrying about gaining weight. For others, drunkorexia seems more rooted in social anxiety. Since an empty stomach allows the alcohol to reach the bloodstream faster, it leads to faster intoxication. For people who enjoy the inhibitions that follow drinking, not eating allows them to feel more comfortable and uninhibited very quickly, leading to less social anxiety. Regardless of the motivation, this kind of behavior is unhealthy and dangerous.
What are the risks?
The risks of drunkorexia include the obvious dangers of excessive alcohol consumption, like alcohol poisoning and an increased risk of robbery, assault, or other crimes when extremely inhibited by alcohol. Binge drinking endangers others, too, as drunk driving accidents cause hundreds of deaths each year. But since drunkorexia also includes disordered eating, the health risks go beyond the dangers of just heavy drinking. Binging and purging behaviors can lead to stomach issues, tooth and throat damage, including tearing of the esophagus, and electrolyte imbalance, which can have long-term effects on the body. It can also result in unhealthy weight fluctuations. By combining the risk of drinking and disordered eating, drunkorexicia can quickly become incredibly damaging and unhealthy.
Drunkorexia is not a formal medical condition, but still presents a huge issue, particularly for college students. College-aged women are the most likely to experience drunkorexic behavior, but young men exhibit the symptoms, too. With the pressures of fitting in and maintaining of good body, college students become the perfect victims of unhealthy behavior.
Since it’s not a formal diagnosis, there is no specific treatment for drunkorexia. However, someone who specializes in eating disorder or alcohol addiction should be able to help. If you know someone who is struggling with this kind of behavior, urge them to get help. College is supposed to be an exciting time of self-discovery, but it’s important to stay safe and healthy, too!
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