About Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are commonly seen in the female addiction population, as well as a growing number of males.  An Eating disorder refers to a pathological condition that consists of an irrational fear of gaining weight, a preoccupation with body image, and a number of unhealthy behaviors such as food binges, severe restriction of food intake, and various types of purging of foods already consumed.  These disorders often become intertwined with addiction, especially since most drug use creates an abrupt loss of weight.  The more common disease course is to see mostly the addictive elements while the person is in active substance abuse.  During this time the weight is often controlled by drugs and emotions are buried by chemical intoxication.  After abstinence from illicit substances is achieved, the eating disorder often becomes active again and body image becomes the new focus.  A medical complication or a drug relapse will become imminent if this condition is not addressed by the appropriate professional.  Eating disorders are considered a distinct subset of psychiatry due to the special needs and unique considerations required for treating these conditions.  Appropriately trained eating disorder professionals are specialists who have completed substantial additional eating disorder training that goes well beyond their standard therapy or medical training.  These professionals will most often be affiliated with International Association for Eating Disorder Professionals (IAEDP) and will seek their specialty training through this organization.  True eating disorder programs will have separate groups and program elements for the eating disorder patients.