A dangerous new trend some are calling “drunkorexia” is occurring on college campuses across the country. It combines the dangerous eating behaviors or anorexia and bulimia with alcohol abuse, upping the risk factor for the young men and women who participate.
What is Drunkorexia?
Young women today feel an unprecedented amount of pressure to stay thin. This pressure can come from a variety of sources; friends, family members, media, etc. Young women who want to engage in the drinking culture of college campuses may decide to trade food for alcohol. In other words, they drastically reduce or eliminate their food intake to save their calories for drinking.
Young women see the practice as having multiple benefits. They save calories, save money, and get drunk more quickly. Rather than restricting food intake, some women choose binging and purging instead. They binge eat, then binge drink, followed by throwing everything up.
Dangers of Drunkorexia
Unfortunately, they often don’t see the dangers of this behavior. They may simple see this as an easy way to have fun while still maintaining their desired body weight. Social networking sites, blogs, even conversations with friends help participants learn new ways of drinking and not gaining any weight.
However, severely restricting food intake or getting into a binging and purging cycle are red flags for eating disorders. Up to one third of college women may have disordered eating habits according to the article, Eating Disorders in College Women, and adding alcohol to the mix just makes it more dangerous.
Women who get drunk more quickly also may not realize how impaired they are. Since drunkenness impacts a person’s judgment, decision-making process, and perceptions, this may put them at higher risk for dangerous sexual behavior, sexual assault, or other risks.
Drunkorexia is not an official medical condition, but rather a popular term that has been given to this behavior. But the underlying alcohol abuse and disordered eating are real. When these two addictions co-occur, doctors must treat each one separately.
Men and Drunkorexia
Though many people view eating disorders are primarily effecting women, many men suffer, too. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, more than a million men and boys are effected. Increasingly, our society is pressuring boys and men to look a certain way as well. Conscious of their weight and body shape, college age men are at risk of developing the behaviors of drunkorexia, as well.
Men may also be drawn to the fact that they can get drunker more quickly when they don’t eat. Because drunkenness among young men is often valued socially on college campuses, they often see this as a benefit, but are unaware of the health risks involved.
The key thing to remember is that drunkorexia is not a harmless diet fad. Instead it is flirting with risky health behaviors that could have long term consequences. Young people should always eat before drinking, drink in moderation, and avoid binge eating or drinking. If they suspect a problem, they should contact their campus counseling services immediately.