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:
- 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.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness — Eating Disorders
- National Institute Of Mental Health — Eating Disorders
- National Library of Medicine — The overlap between binge eating disorder and substance use disorders: Diagnosis and neurobiology
- National Library of Medicine — Risk factors for binge eating disorder: a community-based, case-control study
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services — Binge Eating Disorder