Drunkorexia: Alcohol Mixes With Eating Disorders

Men Consider the Finance Factor

The National Eating Disorder Association shows that while women are more commonly affected by eating disorders, more than a million men and boys battle the illness every day. Between fraternity binge drinking and the social norms of alcohol on campus, college males also try to control their weight while having a good time.

Rodney, a 20-year-old public relations major at UT who also agreed to an interview under the terms that his identity be kept secret, says drunkorexia in men starts with optimizing intoxication levels.

"When you consume on an empty stomach, you feel the effect quicker," Rodney said. Last semester, "during the day on Friday I only ate a pint of ice cream all day, knowing I'd be drinking liquor later that night."

Rodney says it's also a money factor for men. If it comes between eating dinner or spending it on beer, it's often easier to go the beer route.

"Alcohol advertisements have definitely made an impact, considering you see more and more commercials associated with low cost and low-cal beers, or what I call 'diet beers.'"

Some students believe it is these sorts of advertisements that push peers to try drunkorexia and other drastic measures in order to stay thin.

Women as Targets

"On Facebook when we put our gender as female, we're not only targeted with bridal ads but how-to-lose-weight ads, diet ads," said Micaela Neumann, a 19-year-old communications student at UT. "Men don't get that. We are targeted to lose weight."

Advertisements aren't alone in supporting weight loss. Pro-anorexia blogs have been popping up over the past few years and becoming popular internationally. Most websites focus on a "pro-ana" approach, which promotes the eating disorder anorexia nervosa as a lifestyle choice. Ana is a sort of mascot, the personification of an anorexic girl.

Pro-thinspo.com gives strategies for staying thin and how to "look like a model." Trends range from the "5 bite diet," in which a person only eats five bites of food every meal to stay skinny, to different detox methods. On some sites, each week there's a new technique for drinking and not gaining weight or using other forms of drugs.

"It's scary to think that there are support groups like this," said Dr. Prince said.

"A lot of women I've worked with have used these drunkorexic strategies. It's a habit they've formed, and they have this mentality that you can't get your last 'hoorah' in without thinking about the consequences. Every calorie counts," Dr. Prince said.

Along with skipping meals altogether, purging is also a danger associated with drunkorexia. A person binge drinks then binge eats (usually with foods high in salt and sugar according to drugrehabtreatment.com) and throws it back up after.

"It's not good for you nutrition-wise, and the alcohol is going to hit your system harder because there's nothing to slow it down at first," Prince said.

Drunkorexia's Roots in Addiction

Psychologists stress that the main cause of drunkorexia is addiction.

According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, "alcoholism and eating disorders frequently co–occur and often co–occur in the presence of other psychiatric and personality disorders."

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