The Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine has recently published a report that states there is a longitudinal association between overeating or binge eating and illicit drug abuse. Overeaters and binge eaters were 1.59 to 1.89 times more likely to engage in drug use according to the researcher’s report. These conclusions were drawn from studying 16,882 people from 1996-2005. According to CBS News, these people were part of the ‘Growing Up Today Study’ (http://www.gutsweb.org) which surveyed the people about their eating habits and drug use.
Experts classify binge eaters as a separate condition from those who are overeaters. Binge eaters are described as people who can not control their eating, and consume a large amount of calories in a short period of time. Binge eaters can consume as much as 15,000 calories in one sitting, and add to that total with snacking through out the day. Binge eating was not only linked to an increased percentage in drug use, but also connected to a higher risk for other eating disorders like bulimia and mental health problems like depression. Overeating is classified as people who are capable of regulating their caloric intake, but still eat more than recommended by doctors.
Binge Eating And Drug Use
The study’s lead author, Kendrin Sonneville, from Boston Children’s Hospital, clearly addresses the problem by stating, “physicians and parents should be aware that both overeating and binge eating are quite common in adolescents, and these problems put them at risk for other problems, such as drug use.” The co-occurring disorder of binge eating and drug use is a problem that continues into adulthood.
Bloomberg News states the report shows no correlation between eating disorders and binge drinking. Sonneville believes that “binge drinking is common among all types of young people so any association may disappear because many teens are engaging in the behavior.” According to a paper published by Dr Martin Stolle in the US Library of medicine, “the more often a child or adolescent binge drinks and the younger they are the more likely that they will develop an alcohol use disorder as an adult including alcoholism.”
Registered dietician Lona Sandon, told CBS News’ Health Day, that she believes that the people “may be engaging in binge eating for a way to somehow improve their mood or … cover up negative emotions. That may be the same reason they also then turn to marijuana or some other drug.”
The correlation between eating disorders and drug use is not surprising for the expert medical staff at Sovereign Health of California. Sovereign Health specializes in dual diagnosis treatment where the patient is treated for both their eating disorder and their drug addiction at the same time. Marijuana addiction, methamphetamine addiction, cocaine addiction, heroin addiction often plays a role in developing mental health disorders like depression. Conversely mental health issues like depression, anxiety, ADHD and bipolar disorder can lead to addictions as patient self medicate in an attempt to treat their mental health issue. Dual diagnosis treatment centers are unique from traditional drug rehab centers in that they recognize the complex relationship addiction and mental health have with each other and rehab the patient simultaneously in an attempt to achieve long term sobriety and stability.