This week (February 22nd through the 28th) is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. As we have written on this blog before, there is a strong connection between eating disorders (EDs) and addiction.
What is the Link Between Addiction and Eating Disorders?
I myself have struggled with both; I know firsthand that they share many similarities and impact one another. Both EDs and substance use disorders (SUDS) are a set of behaviors in which people continue to engage despite negative consequences. Addiction and eating disorders are obsessive—conditions that consume your time, energy, and thoughts.
When an ED or SUD starts, it’s often about control. That’s a little more obvious when it comes to certain EDs—like anorexia—but perhaps less so with addiction; after all, you use a substance that takes away your control over yourself. However, when we pick up substances, we are often attempting to gain control over our emotions.
In the end, though, EDs and addictions both spiral out of our control. They take over our thoughts and often leave us feeling powerless.
EDs and addiction can also interact with one another. For instance, a person may become addicted to stimulants after using them to lose weight.
What is This Year’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Week Theme?
Each year, National Eating Disorders Awareness Week has a theme; 2021’s theme is: “every body has a seat at the table.” According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), “In a field where marginalized communities continue to be underrepresented, we welcome conversations on raising awareness, challenging systemic biases and sharing stories from all backgrounds and experiences.”
Who Has Eating Disorders?
Just as with addiction, only certain stories of eating disorders are heard. These are often about cisgender, straight, white women. While everybody’s experience is important and worth sharing, this National Eating Disorders Awareness Week reminds us that eating disorders don’t look only one way. Neither do addictions.
National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is a time to open up the conversation about EDs and support people who are struggling with them. It also reminds us that the interaction between any co-occurring disorder is complex and multifaceted—and that people struggling with them need care that is equally multidimensional.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. Amatus Recovery Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. We specialize in co-occurring disorders and pride ourselves on treating the whole person. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.