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A Psychologist Explains The Concerning Rise Of ‘Drunkorexia’

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses "drunkorexia," a concerning trend that combines alcohol abuse and disordered eating behaviors. It explores the underlying motivations and health risks associated with this phenomenon, particularly among college students and young adults.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Defining Drunkorexia

1. What is "drunkorexia"?

  • "Drunkorexia" is a portmanteau of the words "drunk" and "anorexia" that refers to a pattern of behavior where individuals restrict their food intake, engage in excessive exercise, or purge to "make room" for the high caloric content of alcohol they will consume.

2. Is drunkorexia an official medical diagnosis?

  • No, drunkorexia is not yet an official medical diagnosis, but it highlights a concerning trend that has elements of both eating disorders and substance abuse disorders.

3. What are the common behaviors associated with drunkorexia?

  • Behaviors associated with drunkorexia include fasting, binge drinking, and getting drunk.

4. How prevalent is drunkorexia among certain populations?

  • Drunkorexia is particularly prevalent among college students and young adults. For instance, a study of Australian female university students found that over 79.1% of participants reported engaging in drunkorexia behavior.

5. What are the significant health risks associated with drunkorexia?

  • Drunkorexia poses serious health risks, including nutritional deficiencies, a weakened immune system, an increased risk of alcohol poisoning, organ damage, and exacerbated mental health issues.

[02] Underlying Motivations for Drunkorexia

1. What is one of the primary factors enabling drunkorexia behavior?

  • A fear of gaining weight from alcohol calories is one of the primary factors enabling drunkorexia behavior. A 2020 study found that a higher drive for thinness is associated with higher levels of drunkorexia.

2. What societal and cultural factors contribute to the drive for thinness?

  • The pervasive idealization of thinness, perpetuated through media portrayals, fashion industry standards, and social media, can lead to body dissatisfaction, disordered eating behaviors, and a relentless pursuit of weight loss.

3. How do gender differences play a role in drunkorexia?

  • Research shows that women tend to have more weight concerns than men, and women who are heavy drinkers are especially susceptible to drunkorexia.

4. How can "conformity drinking" contribute to drunkorexia?

  • The consumption of alcohol is highly normalized and even glamorized, and abstaining can be met with stigma. Drunkorexia can then become a coping mechanism for emotional and psychological stressors, such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

5. How can mindfulness be a helpful tool in addressing drunkorexia?

  • A 2022 study found that higher levels of complete attentiveness to the present moment and a non-judgmental attitude towards oneself were associated with lower levels of drunkorexia.
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