Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse: Co-Occurring Disorders

Inner Door Center® is both a center for eating disorder recovery and recovery from other addictions, such as substance abuse.  In our center, we have seen that more often than not, these two areas of mental health treatment collide.  It is often revealed that our clients who have come in seeking treatment of an eating disorder are also struggling with other addictions, and our clients who have substance abuse problems often also have disordered eating patterns.  This concept is not new, and it was not a revelation for Inner Door Center® – the research on the interface of eating disorders with substance abuse disorders is strong and the goal of our clinic is to treat them both for a successful recovery process.

Here are some facts about eating disorders and substance abuse:

–          In a study published in Psychological Medicine in 1984, it was found that 17% of patients with eating disorders in the study also suffered from borderline personality disorder.  The incidence of alcohol abuse was also significant in patients with borderline personality disorder.

–          According to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System concluded that increased medical attention should be directed toward adolescents who practice disordered eating behaviors because they are also at elevated risk for using cigarettes, alcohol, inhalants, methamphetamines, and steroids.

–          Studies from the International Journal of Eating Disorders and Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences  found that substance abuse disorders are more prevalent in patients with anorexia nervosa that display bulimic symptomology.

In the treatment of patients that have a substance abuse disorder and an eating disorder, one thing is very clear:  before true recovery can start to take place, biological restoration must occur.  That being said, weight and eating must be restored to its natural state in order for the brain to function properly to focus on recovery.  And on the other hand, sobriety must be achieved in order to focus on normalizing eating.  In our recovery programs, we determine which disorder has the greater prevalence and treat our clients accordingly – those who have serious drug addictions will receive care in our Inner Strength Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Program, and those who have severe eating disorders with a level of sobriety from drugs will be treated in one of our eating disorder programs.


If you or a loved one is suffering from addictions or eating disorders, please contact our clinic at (248) 336-2868 or visit our website: to learn more about the recovery programs that we offer at Inner Door Center®.



International Journal of Eating Disorders.  Volume 14, Issue 1, pages 107-110.  Copyright 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. A Wiley Company.

International Journal of Eating Disorders.  Volume Issue 5, pages 464-470.  Published online: 14 Mar 2008.  Copyright 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. A Wiley Company.

International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences.  Volume 63, Issue 1, pages 82-87.  Journal compilation 2010 Japanese society of psychiatry and neurology.


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