Dual Diagnosis Programs

Programs for Dual Diagnosis Care

The unstable thought and behavioral patterns associated with eating disorders also lead to the problem of addiction. Individuals with eating disorders abuse all types of substances from everyday items easily found in the grocery store all the way up to illegal narcotics. Whether the substance abused is legal or illegal, the resulting negative consequences of addiction are identical and need a quality Dual Diagnosis rehab facility in order to overcome it.

Drug Use and Eating Disorders


Some of the substances abused by those with anorexia or bulimia can be found on a weekly grocery shopping trip. Caffeine, cigarettes and alcohol are all legal substances abused to either control weight or numb emotions. Caffeine from coffee, tea and diet soda all can suppress hunger. The nicotine in cigarettes is well known to keep someone’s weight down because it reduces appetite as well.

Another legal drug often abused is alcohol. It may be surprising that someone trying to reduce their weight would regularly ingest something as high in calories as alcohol, but its abuse is therefore related to the bulimic behavior of purging. Consequently, the abuse of alcohol can reinforce the unhealthy behaviors of an eating disorder.

Causes of Dual Diagnosis Involving Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse

Many of the underlying causes of anorexia and bulimia are the same as those that produce a substance abuse problem. The commonality in the risk factors and causes of each issue, is one of the major reasons Dual Diagnosis is so prevalent. Since both disorders arise from similar origins, the simultaneous formation of both anorexia and substance abuse is always a risk in individuals with either issue. The reasons both these problems may arise include:

  • Differences in brain chemistry
  • High levels of stress
  • Family history of addiction or anorexia
  • Major life changes
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Past abuse
  • Unhealthy relationship with food
  • Social anxieties
  • Unrealistic advertising and entertainment images

Symptoms of Co-Occurring Disorders and Addictions

In addition to common causes, many of the symptoms of anorexia and substance abuse coincide as well. This is why Dual Diagnosis treatment is so important. Standard rehab centers are not experienced or equipped in understanding the differences and similarities in symptoms between anorexia and chemical dependencies and the challenges this complicated relationship presents in successfully maintaining sobriety. Some of the symptoms that straddle both disorders include:

  • Habitual behavior
  • Changes in social behavior, especially isolating oneself
  • Secrecy
  • Obsession with substance
  • Danger of suicide
  • Associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder and mood disorders
  • Chronic conditions
  • Possibly life- threatening

Facts Statistics and Studies

One survey found that females from age eight to 22 years old who engaged in unhealthy behaviors associated with eating disorders also were more likely to consume considerably more alcohol than those without disordered eating behavior. Even more specifically, nearly 75 percent of female college freshman who were bulimic admitted to abusing alcohol within the last 30 days, while only 44 percent of their non-bulimic counterparts had used alcohol in the same time period.

Eating Disorders and AddictionThose with a substance abuse problem are as much as 11 times more likely to have an eating disorder than those without a chemical dependency issue. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University has found through their research that as many as 18 percent of those with anorexia are dealing with a simultaneous substance abuse issue. Addiction to drugs or alcohol occurs in about nine percent of the general population, so those with anorexia are twice as likely to experience this problem.

Additional Resources


The Necessity of Dual Diagnosis Programs for Eating Disorders and Drug Addiction

Those suffering from an eating disorder may use one or all of the types of addictive substances above to manage their weight and/or numb painful feelings. It is nearly impossible to beat an eating disorder without addressing the addiction as well. Both issues must be addressed simultaneously in order to have the best chances at a successful long-term recovery.

Dual Diagnosis treatment programs provide treatment for co-occurring mental health issues and addiction. These programs have the psychiatric staff required to sufficiently treat the mental disorders involved in a Dual Diagnosis that standard treatment cannot provide.

Why they are Needed

An effective Dual Diagnosis rehab understands the following:

  • Psychiatrists must be an integral part of effective Dual Diagnosis treatment.
  • Dual Diagnosis treatment often takes more time than standard rehab.
  • Effective Dual Diagnosis rehab moves at the patient’s own pace.
  • The intensive phase of Dual Diagnosis rehab should be integrated under one roof.
  • Extensive aftercare services are essential to protect against future relapse.


Find a Dual Diagnosis Program

If you or someone you love is in need of Dual Diagnosis rehab for the combination of anorexia and drug abuse, don’t hesitate to contact us. We have professional counselors standing by around the clock to provide a confidential assessment and help match you with the most effective Dual Diagnosis treatment program for your specific needs.

We have a variety of top-rated, knowledgeable Dual Diagnosis treatment programs around the US to assist you through the journey to a lasting recovery. Don’t waste one more day fighting a losing battle against untreated co-occurring disorders. Give us a call and start on your way to a healthy and balanced lifestyle.