According to the National Institute of Mental Health, those aged 18-24 with eating disorders have the highest rate of death—12 times higher than the average.
The statistics on drunkorexia are staggering. Drunkorexia is the slang word used mainly by college students to describe someone who restricts food calories to make room for all those alcoholic drink calories they will be taking in at the campus party later that night. Drunkorexia may also include purging food and alcoholic drink to avoid the calories. Despite the known risks of these behaviors, the statistics still show that 30% of women between 18 and 23 diets so they can drink and not just drink but drink more.
A recent Southeastern University study of first-year college students found that 14 per cent restricted calories before drinking, six per cent of that number doing so in order not to gain weight. A startling 70 per cent were female. According to the CBC, 35 per cent of people with substance abuse issues also have eating disorders. The statistics pare down drunkorexic to one out of five college students.
Drunkorexia most of often begins with a fear of gaining weight from alcohol and is very prevalent among college-aged women; not to mention more dangerous too. This doesn’t mean that men don’t engage in drunkorexic behaviors at all, because some of them do. In extreme cases, the behaviors associated with drunkorexia are related to bulimia and/or anorexia, in which the alcohol is a catalyst making it easier to vomit or it helps to manage eating anxieties. Individuals don’t have to have eating disorders to be considered drunkorexic though; individuals without eating disorders that restrict their intake of food before going out can still struggle with drunkorexia.
Unfortunately for the sex that drunkorexia most commonly affects, females, it is also significantly more dangerous. Because women weigh less they have fewer metabolizing enzymes and less body water to dilute the alcohol with. A martini on an empty stomach immediately sends alcohol shooting into the system making the blood sugar levels shoot up. The result of this is an entire upheaval of the body’s metabolism which can cause serious instability. Those with eating disorders or with disordered eating patterns essentially disintegrate from the inside out. Alcohol consumes their vitamins and nutrients need to survive and this can lead to serious health problems such as fainting, cognitive impairment, and hypoglycemia.
The dangers of being drunkorexic don’t stop there though. Cutting food calories to take in more drink calories is very risk. Not only can drunkorexia make an eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia worse it can also severely affect the individual’s emotional, mental, and physical health.
• Drinking on an empty stomach gets you drunk faster, which in turn reduces your self-control and predisposes you to make bad decisions
• Binge eating may also be experienced because the person is extremely hungry and may be unable to control their urges
• Purging often follows after these spurts of binging on food
• Reducing food caloric intake puts a person at risk of not getting the nutrients needed to function properly
• Self-starvation and alcohol abuse can also lead to blackouts, alcohol poisoning, alcohol-related injury, violence or illness.
• Drinking on an empty stomach can make the drinker more vulnerable to alcohol-related brain damage.
• Drinking on an empty stomach can also have a detrimental impact on hydration of the body being able to hang onto minerals and nutrients which can exacerbate symptoms of malnutrition and cognitive problems.
The long term effects are even more severe and the worst case scenario results in an early death. Long term effects of drunkorexia are: osteoporosis, brain damage, cirrhosis of the liver, cardiac problems and death. But this isn’t stopping the drunkorexics. In fact there is a new trend to hit the drunkorexic scene that involves smoking alcohol to get drunk without even needing to consume the actual liquid.