Addiction Treatment

When Eating Disorders Co-Occur with Substance Abuse

Written By:

Becky Babb

When Eating Disorders Co-Occur with Substance Abuse

Eating disorders are frequently assumed to exclusively belong to women, due to mainstream culture and widely accepted stigmatization. The number of men affected by eating disorders is rapidly growing. Also on the rise is co-occurring eating disorders with substance abuse. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 50% of persons affected by eating disorders also abuse drugs or alcohol.


According to recent research, 40% of men are more likely to abuse substances and struggle with binge-eating disorder (BED) than women. Men with a primary eating disorder are five times more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol whereas men who primarily abuse drugs or alcohol are 11 times more likely to struggle with an eating disorder. Research suggests these reasons why:

  • Men are naturally more impulsive with a tendency toward risk-taking
  • Pressure in the media and sports for young boys and men to be hyper masculine: lean, toned, yet muscular
  • Alcohol abuse can create a regurgitation and dehydration effect, contributing to binge eating and rapid weight loss
  • Abusing certain drugs can act as an appetite suppressant, enabling starvation
  • Avoidance-based coping
  • Peer pressure to fit in, particularly while in school or challenging work, social and family environments
  • The prevalence of fast foods and snack foods designed to trigger dopamine responses in the brain and create an addictive eating cycle


Proven models of treatment are done simultaneously through a 12 step process along with a comprehensive team including medical, nutritional, and psychological support. Seeking support from family, friends, and loved ones will be beneficial. Realize professional help is likely required to appropriately treat both challenging disorders. Finding ways to rebuild confidence, self-esteem, and a balanced life will encourage a whole new lifestyle.The Last Resort Recovery Center maintains a talented and skilled staff of addiction counselors, dieticians, and physicians that are highly trained in dealing with alcoholism, addiction, and co-occurring eating disorders. We proudly provide a comprehensive fitness and nutrition program that can help bring your body, mind and spirit back to balance. Contact our offices at 512-750-6750 for more information on how you can take the first step toward recovery.

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