Research in the science of addiction and the treatment of substance abuse has led to the development of many innovative types of treatments that work well in supporting people to achieve and maintain sobriety. Evidence-based interventions help people stop abusing drugs and resume productive lives, but this doesn’t mean that the work is done or that the journey will be an easy one. Other struggles will surface on the path to recovery, which may become extremely challenging. A common challenge is the struggle with food and body.
Overeating and under eating can become a way to cope with feelings when you’re in recovery, especially if this was a struggle for you prior to substance abuse. Food often becomes a way to seek comfort. While enjoying your food is a pleasurable and healthy experience, eating disorders involve serious disturbances in behavior, such as unhealthy reduction of food intake or severe overeating. Feelings of distress or extreme concern about body shape or weight which can cause someone in recovery to relapse or develop another layer of struggles.
The four most common eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, and Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders. Some of the warning signs of eating disorders are:
An obvious increase or decrease in weight not related to a medical condition
Abnormal eating habits, such as severe dieting, rituals during meal times, fear of dietary fat, secretive binging or lying about food intake
An intense preoccupation with weight and body image
Mood swings, depression, and or anxiety and irritability
Compulsive or excessive exercising
If you suspect that you or someone you know has an eating disorder, help is available. Please reach out to someone you trust. It can be your sponsor, a healthy friend or your therapist. Contact a professional who understands eating and body struggles and how they can be a part of the recovery process.
You are not alone.
Carolina Gaviria, LMHC, NCC