Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope
Because of the many similarities between mental health disorders and substance abuse, it is not uncommon for a person to develop co-occurring disorders, or a mental illness along substance abuse. This is also known as a dual diagnosis and can include alcohol or drug abuse. The number of individuals who struggle with co-occurring disorders is a stark reality of this condition.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, approximately 8.9 million adults struggle with co-occurring disorders, or both a mental and substance abuse disorder1. Yet, despite the high numbers of people who have co-occurring disorders, only about seven percent of people suffering receiving treatment for both conditions. Over fifty percent of individuals with co-occurring disorders will receive no treatment at all1.
One May Turn Into the Other
Perhaps some of the most common co-occurring disorders are eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder, along with substance abuse, such as alcohol or drug addiction. A person with an eating disorder may turn to drugs or alcohol and vice versa for an individual who is dealing with substance abuse. One specific co-occurring disorder that may develop is the relationship between crystal meth addiction and eating disorders.
Some individuals who turn to crystal meth may do so initially in attempt to lose weight. Crystal meth can induce a false sense of energy as well as decrease or depress natural feelings of hunger, which can cause weight loss.
Extreme Measures for Weight Loss
For the person who is dealing with an eating disorder or experiencing poor body image, they may take extreme measures to induce weight loss, including the use of illegal and dangerous substances, such as crystal meth. The use of crystal meth can produce dangerous consequences in both the short and long term, which can effectively destroy the life of the user.
Any weight loss that may result from crystal meth use is typically the result of loss of appetite. The more a person engages in crystal meth use, the more likely they are to begin to substitute healthy foods for the drug. Many users will in fact forgo eating in order to abuse crystal meth, and this can lead to malnutrition, and ultimately, damage to the brain and body.
Eating Disorders Are Just as Serious as Drug Abuse
Eating disorders are in fact severe mental health disorders with high mortality rates. The combination of an eating disorder with substance abuse, or an addiction to crystal meth, can prove fatal. Seeking out professional treatment that addresses both the crystal meth addiction and eating disorder may be the most effective way to approach both of these disorders.
Typically, the addiction to crystal meth would need to be appropriately dealt with first in treatment, by allowing an individual to safely detox and withdraw from the substance that their body has become addicted to. Because detoxing from a hard substance like crystal meth may involve serious medical complications, it is important that an addict withdraw from the drug while under the care of a professional treatment team.
Seeking Out Professional Treatment
If you or someone you care about has been dealing with an eating disorder in addition to an addiction to crystal meth, it is crucial to seek out professional treatment for co-occurring disorders. What might seem as a harmless desire to lose weight through the use of dangerous substances can actually be telling of much more dangerous disorders.
By working with a professional who specializes in co-occurring disorders, you can learn more about what type of treatment might be most effective for you. Treatment will likely involve a combination of medical interventions, nutritional rehabilitation, and psychotherapeutic interventions.
Co-occurring disorders, such as what may exist between crystal meth abuse/addiction and an eating disorder, should never be taken lightly. Addiction Hope has a directory of treatment centers that may be helpful for you to begin your recovery process today.
Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!
What factors make individuals who struggle with an eating disorder more prone to dealing with substance abuse, or vice versa? If you or someone you love has overcome co-occurring disorders, what treatment approaches helped you recovery? What encouragement might you share with others who are experiencing a similar situation?
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “Co-Occurring Disorders”, Accessed 19 July 2015 http://media.samhsa.gov/co-occurring/
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 31st, 2015
Published on AddictionHope.com