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Drunkorexia (aka drunk-arexia)

Drunkorexia? Drugorexia? Well I'd heard about Anorexia, Orthorexia and Bigorexia but what is also spelled as drunk-arexia was something new to me.

Today is January 23rd, 2008 and my ears pricked open when I happened to walk past the TV to catch an interview with therapist, Carrie Wilken, on the CBS early morning show about this new syndrome being picked up in addiction clinics.

Will you find drunkorexia/drunk-arexia in the DSM-IV official manual for health disorders? Nope! At this stage, it's slang for the practice of limiting food intake so as to be able to drink more alcohol, still have fun and yet not gain weight.  In the same way drugarexia is taking drugs to prevent weight gain.

And it's dangerous because without food in the stomach to absorb alcohol (which is basically a toxin), it can be absorbed into the liver in as little as 15 minutes.Whereas when there is food to absorb it, it can be absorbed and then released into the bloodstream more slowly.

Not only that but there's also an enormous trend towards combining hard liquor (spirits) with energy drinks such as Red Bull or Rockstar. Young girls who I've spoken to say this gives them energy to party all night. 

Can you imagine what that little combo is doing to their bodies?

Who gets Drunkorexia / Drunk-arexia?

Many college age students admit to drinking in order to feel less inhibited. In these days when there are so many factors to take into 'being hip' (from clothes, to accessories, to the car you drive etc... etc...) alcohol (which is central to drunkorexia) can be thought of as a good way to overcome feelings of not fitting in.

The group of women most susceptible to drunk-arexia (or drunkorexia) are college or university-going.  Statistics suggest that 30% of 18-24 year olds skip food in order to drink more. 

Drinking amongst college students is also the cause of about 1,400 college students between these same ages losing their lives in 1998. And if you're drinking on an empty stomach, you get drunk a lot faster.

One of the TV shows had a studio audience and even some of the men admitted they also cut out eating in order to be able to go out and drink more. And part of the danger is that binge-drinking among young women have grown to resemble that of men. 

What causes Drunkorexia? 

Drunkorexia or drunk-arexia seems to be surprisingly prevalent amongst certain age groups and as I've just mentioned, I remember going through a period when I was in late high school years and my early 20's of doing it too. I was part of the 'skinny at all costs' AND wanting to go out, be poppular and party without gaining weight brigade.

I mean it combined two things every girl should apparently want - thinness with being a fun party girl!!! THESE things were being 'hip' and 'cool' which made me desirable and wanted! 

In calorie-counting days many people became very aware of was just how many calories alcohol had in it.  They feel they can't go out and have fun knowing that alcohol was loaded with calories unless they cut the calories they're eating.

They typically don't think of the dangers to their body, their brain their liver or anything else. The don't think about cutting out healthy food and substituting it for the empty (but sugar-high) calories of alcohol. It's just the price to pay to stay thin. And as we all know: you can apparently never be "thin enough or have too much money!

The only consideration is being, and staying, thin AND still being able to party. And besides not eating all day means that the alcohol or 'drug' 'zing' hits faster making people feel wittier,  more charming and acceptable. 

In reality, what drinking really does is to lower defenses and put people in riskier situations. 

A TV show interviewed a self admitted Drunkorexic, Fern Jarvis, an aspiring model who hails from London. She admitted knowing all too well that what she was doing was dangerous but also went on to say that she just tries to brush that out of her mind and not think about it. 

She told a story about how she went on a diet of beetroot and butternut for a few days and lost 6lbs knowing that she then had spare 6lbs of calories to drink! Talk about being trapped.

Another motivation she mentioned was that by not eating all day (and some girls take this to greater extremes and don't eat for a number of days), she also felt more attractive going out because she didn't feel bloated.


Do you have an unanswered question about drunkorexia? Or... would you be courageous enough to share your drunkorexic habits with our visitors? Reading the stories of others inspires and heal.

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