Many people who struggle with addition to alcohol or drugs also have difficulty controlling the amount of food that they eat. It is common to hear about someone binging in college or at parties with alcohol. However, what is less common is to hear others speak of repetitive binges on food. Yet, addiction to alcohol or drugs, and binge eating disorder (BED) share many common features.
They travel in packs. Addiction and BED usually do not occur in isolation. Most people who struggle with alcohol or drug addiction also have another psychiatric disorder such as bipolar disorder, depression or schizophrenia. BED also is highly “co-occurring.” 65% of patients with BED have anxiety disorders, and 25% of patients with BED have substance use disorders.
They share family traits. Addiction and BED share many of the same feelings and behaviors. Both are associated with use that often feels out of control for the person who is affected. Feelings of guilt are very common in both groups as well. Isolation and use beyond what was intended are frequent behaviors in both sets of patients. Family members of both addicts and BED patients will often hear, “I am just going to stay up a little later to…clean up the kitchen…watch some TV…etc.”
They both are medical conditions that can be beaten. Neither addiction or BED is a character flaw or moral failure. They are both medical conditions that can be diagnosed and treated. Different types of therapies have been found to be efficacious in either disorders. There are also medications that can improve these conditions. These include medications that have been approved for alcohol dependence and others for BED, as well as medications that have been found to work even though they do not have FDA approval (off label indications).
Clinicians who have expertise in addictions can help you find out more about both addiction and BED and guide you to resources that can help you achieve your goals for your health.