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Eating Disorders with Addiction

Addiction and eating disorders are both complex and serious conditions that can have a profound impact on a person's life. There are a number of links between eating disorders and addiction, with people with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder often turning to substance abuse as a way to gain a sense of control or emotional relief. Additionally, many people with eating disorders also have co-occurring mental health issues, which can also lead to addiction.

The connection between eating disorders and addiction is strong enough that they are often treated together, especially at the best rehabilitation centers in India for alcohol and drugs. This is because treating just one disorder is usually not effective. Treatment at the best drug and alcohol detox centers in India focuses on the issues causing the eating disorder and addiction. It also helps patients develop coping skills to manage cravings and triggers for these conditions.

Eating disorders are mental health issues characterized by an unhealthy relationship with food. They can cause physical, psychological, emotional distress, and health problems.

People with eating disorders typically have a distorted view of their body weight, feeling either overweight or underweight, regardless of their actual size. The three most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder. People with these conditions have difficulty controlling their eating habits, leading to unhealthy behaviors.

If you or a loved one is suffering from any of the conditions mentioned above, getting help is vital from a rehab centre near me. Mental health treatment from the top drug treatment centers in India can help to ease symptoms and give you the tools to prevent relapse. By speaking to a mental health professional at a top rehabilitation center for drug addiction, you can get advice about medications, therapy, and other treatments that can help you. Treatment isn't just for those suffering from mental illness, though. It's important to speak up if you're worried about the mental health of a loved one. It's never too late to get help from the best rehab centers in India, so don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help with your own mental health or a loved one's.

Types of Eating Disorders

  • Anorexia nervosa – People with anorexia have a distorted body image. They see themselves as overweight, even though they are dangerously underweight. An individual with anorexia will starve themselves and exercise compulsively to lose weight because of how they see their body.
  • Bulimia nervosa – People with bulimia may eat an excessive amount of food in a short period of time. They may try to get rid of the food they have eaten by forcing themselves to vomit, abusing laxatives, or exercising too much.
  • Binge eating disorder – People with binge eating disorder often eat large amounts of food in a short period of time and feel that they cannot control their eating. Unlike people with bulimia, people with binge eating disorder do not try to get rid of the food they have eaten by vomiting or using laxatives. They may eat even when they are not hungry and continue eating until they are uncomfortably full. This is because they have a distorted relationship with food.

Although anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder are the only three eating disorders that are clinically recognized, there are several other common eating habits that would be considered unhealthy. These include but are not limited to: purging, yo-yo dieting, orthorexia, and emotional eating. If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of these behaviors, it is important to seek professional help from the top rehabs in India.

The Link Between Addiction and Eating Disorders

There is a strong association between eating disorders (Eds) and substance use disorder (SUD) in adolescence. The most common co-occurrence is BN and AUD. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse mentioned that approximately 50% of women with EDs have SUD. [1]

Similarly, among those with SUD, the rates of EDs are high. There are increased rates of alcohol use disorder (AUD) among those with SUD. It was reported that there is a direct association between the number of drinks on one occasion and the risk of having or developing EDs. [2] Adolescents who struggle with binge eating are also more likely to report drinking more at each occasion and getting drunk than those who do not binge eat. [2]

Although they are two different diagnoses, research suggests that there is often a correlation between eating disorders and addiction. People with an eating disorder may turn to addiction as a way to cope with the anxiety and stress they experience. They may also use substances such as drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes as a way to control their weight or in an attempt to feel better.

There are numerous factors that commonly co-occur between addiction and eating disorders. Many individuals who suffer from addiction also experience co-occurring mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, which can lead to self-harming behaviors, such as disordered eating. In a similar vein, people with an eating disorder can develop addictions as a way to cope with the negative emotions and feelings they have about themselves and their bodies.

It is important to address both addiction and eating disorders in treatment from the best depression and anxiety treatment centers in India, as the causes of these issues often mirror one another. Links between addiction and eating disorders can come from a variety of sources, so it is important to be aware of all potential causes when developing a treatment plan at the top luxury rehabilitation centres in India.

  • Genetics – Genetic factors may influence a person's risk for developing an eating disorder or addictions. This can give one a better understanding of why their parent, sibling, or child has a specific condition. Additionally, knowledge about inherited traits may help the next generation avoid the same struggles.

It is well established that there is substantial comorbidity between eating disorders and substance use disorders. However, it is unclear why these two disorders frequently co-occur. It has been hypothesized that the two disorders may share a common etiology, which could be genetic in nature. There is ample evidence that the eating disorders, specifically anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, and a variety of substance use disorders have a genetic component, yet little research has explored whether these genetic factors are shared. [3]

  • Environmental – As society changes, so do the perils associated with addiction and compulsive behaviors. Addiction experts say that as social media becomes more prevalent in our society, the triggers for addiction and eating disorders are changing as well. Today, almost every teenager and young adult has at least one social media account – and many have multiple. As a result, the messages that these young people are exposed to are coming from a variety of their social media contacts. While some of these messages may encourage healthy and productive habits, others may instead encourage alcohol, drug and other substance abuse, smoking, and eating disorders.

There are significant similarities in the behaviors of those with EDs and SUD. The binging and purging behavior in bulimia nervosa (BN) and binge eating disorder (BED) is associated with a high risk of development SUD. Behaviors of women with anorexia nervosa (AN) and restriction types of eating disorders are less associated with SUD. Abusing certain substances such as alcohol is highly associated with EDs. In one study 30.1% of women who presented for treatment from AUD were diagnosed with EDs. [4] Alcohol consumption functions as a primary trigger for binge eating in women with BN. Alcohol can be used by women with EDs to suppress their appetite or to avoid and restrain from food as a compensatory behavior. [4]

  • Emotional and physical trauma – When people with a history of trauma and abuse maintain a diet, they oftentimes use food as a means to escape negative emotions. It is not uncommon for individuals to use substances—including food—to numb and cope with their trauma. The illusion of control may be appealing to some, but it can also be very dangerous. Left untreated, past emotional and physical traumas can often significantly influence present substance or food issues. When deciding between the long-term benefits of therapy and the short-term relief of food or drugs, it is important to remember that the issues are often much deeper than they seem.
  • Emotional health – There are many people who are suffering from a mental illness and don't know it. People who are suffering from untreated mental illnesses are at risk of also suffering from an eating disorder or an addiction. People who suffer from depression, anxiety, or PTSD, for example, are at risk of developing an eating disorder. Also, people who begin abusing drugs or alcohol during their teen years, are at risk of developing an addiction. People suffering from eating disorders and addictions affect all types of people.

Overall, research suggests that serotonin (5-HT) and dopamine (DA) are involved in the neurobiology ED and SUD as well as behavioral addictions, and comparative research across disorders should be undertaken to identify underlying mechanisms. [5]

At Sanctum wellness and healing, the best rehab in India, we understand that addiction and eating disorders are often interconnected. Our treatment centers are equipped to help individuals heal from both conditions with an individualized treatment plan. Our team of experienced clinicians and medical professionals treat the underlying issues of addiction and eating disorders. We also offer experiential therapy, such as yoga and music therapy, to help patients find healthy ways to cope with the difficult emotions of recovery.

At Sanctum Wellness and Healing, the best rehab center in India, our team specializes in helping people conquer their addictions. We're deeply invested in making our communities, families, and relationships healthier, and we do so by providing the best treatment options and medical care to those in need. Whether you're addicted to drugs, alcohol, or any other substance, or you're struggling with an eating disorder, our team of experts can guide you towards a healthier and more fulfilling life. Call Sanctum Wellness and Healing - top rehab in Delhi, today.


  • 1. Exploring the relationship between eating disorder symptoms and substance use severity in women with comorbid PTSD and substance use disorders. Killeen T, Brewerton TD, Campbell A, Cohen LR, Hien DA. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2015;41:547–552.
  • 2. Eating disorder symptoms and alcohol use among adolescents in substance abuse treatment. Arias JE, Hawke JM, Arias AJ, Kaminer Y. Subst Abuse . 2009;3:81–91.
  • 3. Baker, J.H., Munn-Chernoff, M.A. (2014). Genetic Vulnerability to Eating Disorders and Substance Use Disorders. In: Brewerton, T., Baker Dennis, A. (eds) Eating Disorders, Addictions and Substance Use Disorders. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
  • 4. Survey of eating disorder symptoms among women in treatment for substance abuse. Cohen LR, Greenfield SF, Gordon S, Killeen T, Jiang H, Zhang Y, Hien D. Am J Addict. 2010;19:245–251.
  • 5. Frank, G.K.W. (2014). The Role of Neurotransmitter Systems in Eating and Substance Use Disorders. In: Brewerton, T., Baker Dennis, A. (eds) Eating Disorders, Addictions and Substance Use Disorders. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

AUTHOR - Dr. Niharika Singh (MBBS, MD Psychiatry, MIPS)
Dr. Niharika Singh received her MBBS degree from Kurukshetra University, following which she went on to complete MD Psychiatry from Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Bangalore. During her residency program she pursued her thesis on psychosocial factors and personality profile of early and late onset Alcohol dependence syndrome. With a view to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the field of mental health, she then continued to train regularly with premier institutes such as Harvard Medical School - McLean Hospital (USA) in Mind-Body Medicine, Beck Institute (USA) in Cognitive Behavior Therapy, NIMHANS (Bangalore) in Addiction Psychiatry, Behaviour Medicine, Clinical Neurophysiology and Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation and has completed Fellowship in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation from Duke University (USA). After post-graduation, her goal has been to inform the public on addiction issues. Her mission is to help those in need of treatment find the best option for them. And with this being her consistent vision, she believes in de-stigmatizing the field of addiction psychiatry and rehabilitation center treatment in India and has been working at a licensed dual-diagnosis facility in New Delhi. Through her contributions to she aims at providing licensed, professional rehabilitative care choices to patients and their families.

REVIEWED BY - Sudipta Rath (M. Phil in Clinical Psychology)
Sudipta Rath has completed her MPhil in clinical psychology from Utkal University in Odisha (India) in 2020 and is currently practicing in New Delhi as a clinical psychologist at dual diagnosis facility. She is a licensed RCI practitioner specializing in all forms of psychotherapy. Addiction and mental health are personal subjects for her, and her goal is that she can give a helping hand to those seeking healthy and lasting recovery.

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