Binge Eating Disorder And Addiction

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D on April 19, 2021

Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder characterized by periods of excessive overeating. Dual diagnosis treatment seeks to treat binge eating disorder when it appears along with addiction.

Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D on April 19, 2021
Dual Diagnosis Binge Eating Disorder And Addiction

Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States today. It is also the most common eating disorder found in men as well as women.

Binge eating disorder is a serious health condition, and like other eating disorders, is often closely linked to a person’s mental health.

Because this disorder is so closely tied to mental health, it is also not uncommon to find it co-occurring alongside substance abuse.

Treating both disorders together helps address any underlying issues that might be a cause for relapse later on.

Learn more about co-occurring-eating disorders and addiction

What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder where a person binges without purging. They lose control over their overeating and, as a result, most people who have this disorder are overweight and even obese.

Binge eating disorder can happen to anyone, although women still account for more than half of all diagnosed cases.

Risk factors for binge eating disorder include:

  • environment
  • genetics
  • peer pressure
  • other mental health conditions
  • vulnerability to obesity
  • recent trauma or loss

Most experts agree that binge eating disorder, like other eating disorders, centers around a person’s desire to control food as a means of coping with overwhelming emotions.

People with eating disorders tend to have low self-esteem and negative body images. Their feelings of self-worth are heavily tied to their relationship with food and their weight.

When they are unable to control their urges, it leads to a great sense of shame and guilt afterwards. It becomes a cycle that is extremely difficult to get out of.

Symptoms Of Binge Eating Disorder

The main symptom of binge eating disorder is overeating but it is much more complicated than that.

Symptoms of binge eating disorder include:

  • eating fast
  • eating even when not hungry
  • eating large amounts of food in small amounts of time
  • eating in secret
  • eating until uncomfortably full
  • self-shaming about eating habits

At first glance, binge eating disorder may not seem as serious as anorexia or bulimia because someone who has it is not starving or doing physical harm to their body through purging. This is not the case.

If left untreated, binge eating disorder can go on for years and lead to very serious health conditions like diabetes and heart disease, as well as increase a person’s risk for suicide.

The Relationship Between Addiction And Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is rarely found on its own without other co-occurring conditions. When you consider the other conditions that it is commonly found with, there is an obvious pattern for needing to maintain a certain sense of control.

Disorders found commonly co-occurring with binge eating disorder include:

  • substance use disorder
  • borderline personality disorder
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • major depressive disorder
  • anxiety disorders

People with a substance use disorder and binge eating disorder most often tend to abuse alcohol.

This is likely because alcohol is the only drug that can serve as a food substitute and also because people often drink and eat in the same setting.

How Are Addiction And Binge Eating Disorder Diagnosed?

Diagnosis for addiction and binge eating disorder will usually require both a physical and psychiatric evaluation. Tests will also likely be run on the heart and other vital organs to determine the extent of any physical damage.

Urine and blood tests will also likely be run, not as a diagnostic tool for addiction, but as a monitoring tool used as part of the recovery process.

Because someone with binge eating disorder will often hide their behavior or keep it secret, it may be difficult to talk about it with a doctor. This is, unfortunately, why binge eating disorder can sometimes carry on for years.

How Are Addiction And Binge Eating Disorder Treated?

Treatment for binge eating disorder usually requires medical treatment, nutritional counseling, and a special diet in addition to various forms of therapy.

It’s very important that any co-occurring substance abuse is also treated during this time.

Effective treatments for addiction and binge eating disorder include:

  • cognitive behavioral therapy
  • dialectical behavior therapy
  • interpersonal psychotherapy

These types of therapy can be effective because they tend to focus on coping strategies as a person deals with emotions that are overwhelming.

If someone with both addiction and binge eating disorder does not address any underlying self-esteem or self-worth issues, then substance use and overeating could remain their most relied-on coping mechanisms.

Finding Dual Diagnosis Treatment For Addiction And Binge Eating Disorder

Addiction and binge eating disorder are both very serious health conditions that should never be ignored. Fortunately, recovery is possible for both.

By calling our helpline we can help you find:

  • medical detox
  • 12-step programming and support
  • inpatient and residential treatment
  • individual and family counseling

No matter what kind of treatment you are looking for, we can work with you and your family to create an individualized plan that works.

Give us a call for more information or for help finding a dual diagnosis treatment program near you.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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