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Addiction and Anorexia

There is not a specific known cause for anorexia or addiction. However, it is believed that the two disorders develop when someone experiences a variety of psychological, emotional, physiological and social instigators. For example, genetic factors, depression and other psychological disorders can contribute to the problem.

If you or someone you love struggles with drug addiction and anorexia, make no mistake: it is a deadly combination. Either condition by itself is life threatening. Together, it is just a matter of time until the body begins to break down or succumbs to overdose.

Addressing Diet Concerns

Eating foodWhen you stop eating enough food, your body adapts by changing how it functions. The brain functions differently. The metabolism changes and slows. The stress levels of the body go into high alert. The lack of nutrients available for use means that your body doesn’t have the defenses it needs to fight off infection and maintain enough awareness to function safely in the world. In order to fight these effects, many turn to drugs like crystal meth and cocaine to fight these negative effects of anorexia.[1]

When you turn to dual diagnosis treatment for help, the first order of business is to stabilize your body. Depending upon your physical state, you’ll likely spend the first week or so resting and rehydrating, taking vitamins and eating simple foods like vegetables to help ease your body out of its state of shock.

The Role of the Family

Family can add to your anorexia issues as well by pushing to lose weight and impressing upon their desire that you fit their definition of “perfect” or remain extremely thin. Even too much pressure for high achievement in positive things like school and sports can push some to an eating disorder like anorexia.[2]

Dual diagnosis treatment includes personal one on one therapy as well as support groups to help you break free. At The Canyon, we also incorporate family therapy toward the end of treatment if it works for your program.

Predisposition to Addiction and Anorexia

When it comes to drug and alcohol addiction, if you have family members who struggle with the disease, you are more likely to develop addiction issues.

Some come to anorexia as a way to find control over their personal or family life and use drugs and alcohol in the same way. Chronic forms of anorexia may require treatment for many years, including hospitalizations when needed. Ongoing treatment usually includes psychological counseling.[3]

Treatment at The Canyon

At The Canyon, we treat co-occurring disorders like anorexia and drug and alcohol addiction. If you have questions about our program or would like to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one struggling with anorexia and other eating disorders as well as addiction, contact us at The Canyon today.


[1] How An Eating Disorder Changes The Brain. Gebreyes, Rahel. Published on February 27th, 2015.


[3] Anorexia Nervosa Treatment.