AN ADDICTIONS PERSPECTIVE ON EATING DISORDERS

The blog is intended to share some of the research and collective experiences of those of us who have come to recognize anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, food addiction, compulsive overeating as variants of the same "tyrant"-namely addiction. Equally important is defining the solution once we've come to recognize the real problem.

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doctormarty

doctormarty

Licensed psychologist and an active participant within the recovering community, living in South Florida with my wife, Michele, two daughters,Janelle and Danielle, and our dog [Golden-Doodle] Reggie for the past 25 years. Founder and executive director at Milestones In Recovery, a residential and outpatient program treating eating disorders.

Posted by on in Food Addiction

Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in the individual pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors. The addiction is characterized by impairment in behavioral control, craving, inability to consistently abstain, and diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships. Like other chronic diseases, addiction involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.

Tagged in: addiction stigma
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Although certainly not limited to those who harbor an addiction, the familiar saying, "the grass is always greener" is a perfect fit for the addict within us. After all, nothing is ever good enough, is enough, or satisfies our "hunger" for more. Nowhere is this more prominent than for those of us who have suffered with any one of the "flavors" of disordered eating [aka food addiction].

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Someone once told me to expect that any and all relationships I had prior to entering recovery would change dramtically should I continue working a recovery program. In fact, recovery and working the steps can set the foundation for being able to find something that had evaded not just me, but most of us, namely a healthy, loving, and lasting relationship. Here's what I learned along the way - The 4 A's of what most of us are looking for.

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Cross addiction or multiple addictions is a fact of life inherent within the recovering community. Many of us come to the rooms of a 12-step program or treatment facility intending to tackle our alcohol and drug problem, or perhaps our eating disorder. However, many of us realize we have other addictions to manage. Putting off the need to tackle the remaining addiction(s) has brought many of us back to our primary addiction.

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Those of us who have been in and around the “recovery community” are all too aware of the prevalence of eating disorders within the recovering alcohol and drug community. The purpose of this article is to heighten awareness of both the nature and prevalence of eating disorders particular to the community of recovering alcoholics and drug addicts.

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The most common question I am asked by someone with an eating disorder, or, for that matter, most medical professionals, is "How can you describe an eating disorder like compulsive overeating or bulimia as an "addiction" to food? Part of the answer has to do with the similarities between cocaine addiction and  "food addiction." Has anyone ever experienced a change in their appetite when ingesting amphetamines [aka "diet pills], cocaine, or methamphetamine? What happened to your appetite when you "crashed"?  Although perhaps more subtle, the food addict may experience a similar effect. The summary below may offer an explanation.

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What defines an Eating Disorder as an "Addiction"

Although there has been some controversy as to whether anyone can be "addicted to food" (AKA food addict) or manifest the symptoms of addiction with respect to the other eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders - the following is a list of the criteria appearing in the DSM IV (Diagnostic Manual) of the American Psychiatric Association for any and all addictions (dependencies):

-   TOLERANCE

-   WITHDRAWAL

-   MORE FOR LONGER PERIOD THAN INTENDED

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