According to research data from 2019, nearly 22% of individuals diagnosed with an eating disorder also met criteria for a substance use disorder, including cocaine addiction.
There are significant health risks and long term dangers associated with abusing cocaine while struggling with an eating disorder. It is important to seek treatment for both at the same time.
What Is An Eating Disorder?
A common misperception of eating disorders is that a person is attempting a dramatic attempt at weight loss, however this is not the case. Eating disorders are characterized by compulsions, cravings, misperceptions, and issues with self-regulation, similar to substance use disorders.
Many individuals with eating disorders struggle to see or comprehend the effect that the eating disorder has on their body. They often still view their bodies as overweight, out of shape, and even fat. This body dysmorphia reinforces the eating disorder, and puts the person in danger.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), there are approximately six different types of eating disorders, but the following three are most commonly known eating disorders.
A person struggling with bulimia nervosa will experience episodes of binge eating, followed by attempts to prevent weight gain. These attempts include purging (vomiting), using laxatives or other means to induce diarrhea, excessive exercise and/or not eating all together.
Individuals with anorexia nervosa restrict caloric intake to levels that cannot sustain normal function. They will often develop fear or phobia of weight gain and fail to acknowledge their own body weight as problematic.
Repeated episodes of eating large amounts of food, and being unable to control the amount of food ingested. These individuals may not purge or use other means to prevent weight gain, therefore individuals with a binge-eating disorder may be overweight.
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Mixing Cocaine With An Eating Disorder
Because cocaine is a stimulant and appetite suppressant, it can be extremely harmful when used by a person struggling with an eating disorder.
People with eating disorders struggle with body image issues. Regardless of their actual weight, individuals with bulimia and anorexia still see themselves as overweight. No matter how much weight they lose, they will never be “skinny enough”.
A person dealing with a binge-eating disorder and cocaine use disorder could use the effects of each disorder to counteract one another, providing the illusion that there is nothing wrong.
The psychological side effects of eating disorders cause a person to see themselves as overweight or damaged, regardless of the truth of their body or weight. Using cocaine in any way while experiencing an eating disorder will cause harm and sometimes irreversible damage.
How Cocaine Effects Eating Disorders
Cocaine changes the metabolism of individuals who use it. A side effect of cocaine use is rapid weight loss, and a significant decrease in body fat.
Cocaine decreases appetite and increases energy levels, causing weight loss without the frustrations of feeling hungry or drained of energy. Cocaine also provides feelings of euphoria and excitement. All of these side effects may keep a person using cocaine, at least short-term.
Individuals who use cocaine often have a very unhealthy diet. Alcohol and high-fat foods are common with individuals who use cocaine.
Can Cocaine Cause An Eating Disorder?
It is highly unlikely that cocaine causes an eating disorder, but people diagnosed with anorexia may use cocaine to assist them with quick weight loss.
Conversely, an individual who is recovering from a cocaine addiction may be at high risk for binge eating disorder. When cocaine is detoxed from the body, it is common for a person to experience an increase in appetite.
Cocaine And Eating Disorders – What Is The Connection?
The appetite suppression and weight loss effects of cocaine use may be just a couple of the reasons people choose to misuse cocaine. In addition, the media glorifies thinness and even cocaine use, which may lead a person to assume that this form of weight loss isn’t bad.
People with a negative body image may initially see cocaine use as a quick fix to their issues with their weight. However, the mental effects of eating disorders are not resolved with weight loss.
Cocaine use and eating disorders both result in malnutrition, which can cause organ damage and failure. Many of the side effects of these two disorders can become permanent the longer they remain untreated.
Treating Cocaine Use And Eating Disorders
It is extremely important to treat both disorders at the same time. A person who is experiencing co-occurring disorders, like cocaine addiction and an eating disorder, will have a better success rate if the disorders are treated together.
A person can learn to manage the symptoms of an eating disorder, while addressing the nature of cocaine addiction, in the early stages of treatment. Exploring the connections between the two, and the reasons behind them can also be helpful in maintaining long-term sobriety.
Specialized treatment facilities exist that treat both eating disorders and cocaine addiction. We can help you find the right cocaine addiction treatment for you or your loved one, contact our representatives today.