A dangerous trend that
mixes alcohol abuse and eating disorder behaviors is becoming more popular
among college students. Coined as “drunkorexia,” those who practice it
sacrifice calories for a better buzz.
is not an official medical disorder, it combines behaviors from anorexia and
alcoholism, two serious conditions that, separately, affect an increasing
number of college students.
A recent study by
the University of Texas School of Public Health and the University of North
Texas Health Science Center suggests that binge drinking has become more
popular among college students over the last 10 years.
Aside from binge
drinking, daily abuse of alcohol has also greatly increased in the last decade.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in 2008,
8.2 percent of men ages 18 to 24 reported that they were heavy drinkers,
consuming more than two drinks per day. That rate was only 6.1 percent in 1998.
For men, the primary
purpose of drunkorexia is to get drunk faster and with fewer drinks.
“Students like to
feel the buzz, and if they don’t eat, they will feel it faster,” said Stephanie
Lake from the Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs (ATOD) intervention services. “They
like that they don’t have to drink as much.”
For women of the
same age group, 3.9 percent reported that they drank more than one drink per
day in 1998. A decade later, that number more than doubled to 8.1 percent.
Concern about weight
gain is one of the driving forces behind drunkorexia in young women. In
addition to limiting food intake, drunkorexic behavior includes purging before
or after a bout of heavy drinking to get rid of the calories ingested.
“I’ve always watched
my weight and skipped meals to account for the high calorie count of alcohol,”
said Savannah, a 22-year-old graduate student at the University of Texas who
did not want to disclose her last name, in an interview with ABCNews.com. “It
was just something I always did while in college as a normal part of my diet so
that I could stay skinny but still go out and drink.”
considered an official eating disorder, drunkorexia is compared to the clinical
disorder anorexia nervosa. This disorder is prevalent among young women,
particularly in the college age group.
The National Eating
Disorder Association reports that as many as 10 million women in the United
States suffer from anorexia while “millions more are struggling with binge
eating disorder.” Those who suffer from this disorder are 12 times more likely
to die from its complications than from all other causes of death.
On college campuses,
91 percent of women surveyed have or are currently using methods to control
their weight. Drunkorexia is quickly becoming a popular way to do this.
don’t realize is how dangerous this [behavior] is to them getting alcohol
poisoning,” Lake said. “They also don’t realize that just due to their height
and weight, women get drunker faster.”
Short term effects
of practicing drunkorexia are more gray outs, in which one is not able to
remember events until they are reminded by another person, or black outs, which
is not being able to remember anything at all. There are also long term effects
to this behavior, such as esophageal conditions and even alcohol addiction,
“To stop this
behavior, eat a good meal with protein, set a limit and then keep track of your
drinks,” Lake said. Drinks should be spaced out at roughly two drinks per hour.
Those who are
suffering with drunkorexia can get help with Stephanie Lake at the second floor
of Student Health Services. This service is free and confidential for all
SARAHNI PECSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.