Drunkorexia is a non-medical term for the restrictive intake of food calories to make room for alcoholic calories. In other words, it’s when a person eats less so they can drink more or drink in general. This can pose some serious risks to both physical and mental health.
Studies have shown that at least 30% of college students are engaging in this unhealthy lifestyle. According to a study by the University of Houston, out of 1,184 participants, 80% admitted to the following:
- Eating less and exercising more to lose weight after drinking
- Vomiting after eating or taking laxatives or diuretics
- Skipping meals entirely to speed up the effects of alcohol.
The surprising fact is that the trend is just as common in men as it is in women. However, since alcohol is metabolized slower in women, the damaging effects have been shown to occur faster in females.
Without food in the stomach to break down the alcohol, drunkorexia poses higher rates of alcohol poisoning, blackouts, illness, and alcohol-related injuries. Recent news has been filled with reports of college rape and sexual crimes. Drunkorexia can lead to the drinker being in a vulnerable state to allow this to happen. The results are not only being a victim of rape but the possible contraction of STD’s, pregnancy or even violent bodily harm.
The sugar that is contained in alcohol tricks the body into thinking that it is being nourished. When food-based nutrients are replaced with false sugars of alcohol, it can eventually lead to the physical dependence known as alcoholism if not stopped.
On the other side of the spectrum – a prolonged routine of binge eating – can result in serious eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. Regular practice of these can lead to life-threatening illnesses such as liver and heart disease, and even some types of cancer.
Why is Drunkorexia a “Thing”?
Since most of the studies have been done around college campuses, the results have been clear that most people do it for the same reasons.
“According to the National Institutes of Health, one in six people in the U.S. have a drinking problem and approximately 10 million Americans are believed to suffer from potentially life-threatening eating disorders.”
Heavy drinking in college has become the norm. Students see it as a rite of passage, a way to mingle, relax, and feel a part of the college experience. Many don’t consider the consequences of binge drinking or think it could never happen to them.
Next is the pressure on young people to have a certain physical appearance. With social media constantly promoting the “ideal body,” people around the world struggle to meet a certain standard of beauty – hence, plastic surgery, fad diets, and eating disorders.
In addition, there has been a dramatic increase over the last decade of the rates of anxiety and depression among America’s young adults. Many feel the need to drink and use drugs to cope with these feelings. This results in higher rates of binge drinking and drugging.
If drunkorexia sounds like something you or a loved one may be practicing, please don’t be afraid to ask for help.
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