Eating Disorder Facilities: Drug Addiction or Eating Disorder: Which Came First?

When a person enters drug rehab or an addiction treatment facility and is diagnosed with a drug addiction and eating disorder, the question arises which addiction developed first and how do you treat two addictions?

First, let us define an eating disorder as the quality of one’s thinking as it relates to food and weight and not how much someone weighs. Then, we may take a look at various behaviors and address other criteria. In most cases, one’s thinking regarding food and weight became distorted way before they ever began using drugs or alcohol. It is not uncommon that after a period of time of trying to achieve certain self determined goals through binging, purging or restricting and not achieving those goals, that the person would turn to drugs as a means to accelerate the process or deal with the emotional whirlwind of depression, shame or self hatred. At this point we have an eating disorder and drug addiction going full throttle in an attempt to by the person to gain control. It rarely happens and is described as the “great illusion” by most treatment professionals.

How To Treat Drug Addiction And Eating Disorders

When entering a drug rehab or addiction treatment program with an accompanying eating disorder, the goal should always be patient safety. If the patient is not in a life threatening situation due to their disordered eating, then the individual usually enters detox for their drug addiction. After detox is completed, the person’s behavior as it relates to their eating disorder will be addressed. Whether it is binging, purging or restricting, the patient must be willing to address the behavior to achieve recovery. Realizing that abstaining from the eating disorder behavior will initiate cravings for drugs, the clinical staff at the addiction treatment facility must be acutely aware of the possibility of relapse. During this process, the addiction treatment facility must also address the issue of whether they are the appropriate setting for the patient and if not make a referral to another drug rehab or eating disorder facility.

You can find useful information regarding drug addiction, addiction treatment or eating disorders at

Jonathan Huttner is one of the the principals at Lakeview Health Systems, an addiction treatment,

alcohol and drug rehab facility.

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