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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Are Eating Disorders Really Addictions?

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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

-   UNSUCESSFUL EFFORT TO CUT BACK OR CONTROL

-   SIGNIFICANT TIME TO OBTAIN OR RECOVERE FROM EFFECTS

-   DECREASED ACTIVITIES DUE TO DEPENDENCY

-   CONTINUES DESPITE CONSEQUENCES

When applied to alcohol dependency, cocaine, opiates, and an array of the more common chemicals (drugs and substances), there is less confusion as to who meets criteria for being an "addict". However, when looking at other disorders such as "process or behavioral addictions" (e.g. compulsive gambling and "sex addiction) there is some debate. Needless to say, the debate becomes even greater when referring to all the forms of disordered eating - ranging from anorexia and bulimia to compulsive overeating.

What is interesting to note is that per the APA's guidelines, one need only demonstrate 3 of the above criteria in a span of 12 months to meet the criteria for addiction / dependency. What you might ask yourself, or someone sufferring with an eating disorder, is whether the above criteria can be applied to your relationship with food and/or dieting and exercise. When polled, viurtually all of the residents at Milestones recognized a minimum of 5 or 6 of the above criteria - more than the minimum 3 required to describe dependency. In addition, those polled varied in "flavor" of disorder - covering the full spectrum of eating disorders.

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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.


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