Drunkorexia: An Unsettling New Trend for College Students

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Have you heard of drunkorexia before? If you haven’t and are a college student or the parent of a college student, it’s something to be familiar with. A recent article on CBS News documented an unsettling trend that is becoming more prevalent among college students. In its simplest terms, drunkorexia is the combination of anorexia and binge drinking.

Drink in BluePhoto Credit: FreeImages.com/FredericDupont

Drinking without the Weight Gain

Binge drinking is defined by the CDC as having five or more drinks in two hours for men and four or more for women. Though heavy drinking is common in the college setting, and carries many negative consequences such as alcohol poisoning and risky behavior, some young people focus more on the calories consumed.

In order to avoid alcohol-related weight gain, some college students are practicing the dangerous trend of drunkorexia. They may skip meals, exercise excessively before drinking, take laxatives or induce vomiting after drinking. This disorder is frightening, to say the least, because it’s a combination of both alcoholism and an eating disorder, two conditions that can co-exist in some people and feed off each other.

How Common is Drunkorexia?

In a recent study from the University of Houston, researchers found that over 80 percent engaged in drunkorexia-related behaviors in the past three months. Students most at risk for these behaviors were college athletes and members from Greek organizations. These behaviors are also closely linked with alcohol-related tendencies such as binge drinking.

Signs of a Drinking Problem

Since drinking tends to go along with the college lifestyle, it’s sometimes difficult for students, parents and faculty to notice when there’s a problem. Young people can be rather crafty at hiding or downplaying a more serious issue. Sometimes, even individuals themselves don’t realize they have a drinking problem.

The signs of a potential drinking problem include:

  • Drinking by yourself
  • Looking for every excuse to drink
  • Lying about or hiding the behavior
  • Blacking out regularly
  • Not being able to stop once started
  • Drinking in dangerous situations
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Trouble in relationships
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Trying to stop but unable to

If you or someone you love is showing signs of a drinking problem and restricting calories to drink more, it’s possible to be at risk for drunkorexia. Call The River Source to learn more about starting an outpatient program where you can still attend school and get the help you need.