GUEST POST!! Eating Disorders and Addiction: Are They Related?

About the author: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. A huge thank you to Patrick as he helps me to get my blog back on track! His site is beautiful, so make sure you go check it out.

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An eating disorder and an addiction may seem far from one another, considering one is the use of an illicit or illicitly taken substance, and the other stems from eating behaviors that are in some way disordered. However, most share one common symptom -- a person does something repetitive. The treatment of both eating disorders and addiction, such as alcohol addiction treatment, is also similar to one another. 

Repetitive Behaviors

If a person suffers from an addiction, he or she has a compulsory problem with either a drug or alcohol. This person will continue to use this substance because her or his brain tells him that it's necessary. 

On the other hand, a person who has an eating disorder may focus on his or her weight. With bulimia, for instance, a person first binge eats. Then, he or she will try to lose weight in an unhealthy way to compensate. Most often, someone with bulimia will regurgitate the food in order to avoid actually digesting it and gaining weight. However, in some cases, a person may use another unhealthy method to lose weight, such as taking laxatives or overexercising. 

Either way, a person completes a task over and over to accomplish what he or she desires.

Another eating disorder is anorexia, which is characterized by a strong fear of gaining weight. A person with this condition may even have a distorted self-image, in particular of his or her weight. Unfortunately, these feelings cause a person to either severely limit how much he or she eats, use laxatives, or use another method to lose weight. As mentioned above with bulimia, a person with an eating disorder has a goal of losing weight. Then, he or she completely focuses on this goal and performs unhealthy behaviors repeatedly.

Addiction has a similar behavioral pattern. A person becomes focused on using a particular drug to escape reality. He or she may abuse multiple substances to forget trauma or block anxiety, or simply because they may be more genetically prone to addiction or are in an environment where it’s easy to secure drugs or alcohol. With addiction, a person has repetitive thoughts of wanting to use a substance, known as cravings. The craving can lead a person to use repeatedly.


Both eating disorders and addiction can co-occur or stem from an anxiety disorder. For instance, someone with an eating disorder may suffer from social anxiety and want to curb this anxiety by losing an excessive amount of weight.

A person who has an alcohol or drug addiction also may suffer from anxiety. For example, a person may abuse a substance in social events because he or she feels nervous in large crowds or among unfamiliar people. The drugs or alcohol help him or her to relax and combat the anxiety. This person could also have a generalized anxiety disorder or some other anxiety-related condition that he or she combats using alcohol or drugs.

A study between eating disorders and anxiety showed that approximately two-thirds of people with an eating disorder suffered from an anxiety disorder at some point during their lives. In fact, 42% of these individuals had an eating disorder as a child.

Sometimes, a person who has an addiction will have an anxiety disorder as well. It may be the reason why he or she started to drink or use -- to combat the unpleasant feelings. Fortunately, alcohol treatment centers and other addiction specialty clinics will treat this combination of disorders simultaneously since they co-occur, and sometimes one is the result of the other.

Treatment Similarities

Whether an individual receives treatment for an eating disorder or alcohol addiction, the two treatment processes are relatively similar. That's because both consist of repetitive self-destructive behaviors. When a person receives treatment for either, a specialist will identify the underlying cause.

With both treatment processes, the first few days are the most difficult because of the strong urge to use a substance, vomit after eating, or refrain from food for long periods of time. Then, a specialist will determine the root of the problem to target this particular issue, since with either condition, this is the trigger for his or her self-destructive behavior.

Keep in mind that since both conditions may have a co-occurring mental disorder, they're often treated at clinics that specialize in this type of treatment.

Eating disorders and addiction may not seem the same on the outside; however, they're both characterized by having a compulsion to perform the same, repetitive yet destructive actions. 

About the author!!

Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. 


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