Experts warn Drunkorexia epidemic is on the rise

drunkorexiaThe colloquial term ‘drunkorexia’ is probably unfamiliar with some people as it is not technically a medical diagnostic term, but it is one that may become better known in time as the problem threatens to escalate.

Although the term is relatively new, this increasingly serious condition is not. It seems more of us are inflicting a self-imposed torturous starvation and/ or are putting ourselves through overly excessive exercising, with experts warning a higher number of people are now skipping meals, depriving themselves of food in order to ‘save’ the calories for an episode of binge drinking later in the day.

It is believed that more and more women in particularly are drastically reducing their food intake so they can drink more wine. Dieticians coined the term ‘drunkorexia’ due to the fact they believe that their work with clients demonstrates an association between binge drinking and eating disorders.

Psychologists claim it is the labels on the drinks that list the alcohol’s high number of calories is partly to blame for encouraging those with eating disorders to ditch food for drink. The disorder therefore means those who ‘save’ on food calories are drinking alcohol on an empty stomach, something ill-advised as it massively amplifies the effects of alcohol.

Adrienne Key, consultant psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital, says that although the advertising of alcoholic calorie content is in the interest of most people, it can have dire consequences for those suffering with an eating disorder.

Speaking on Monday, she said: “Displaying calorie content on alcoholic drinks has been counterproductive for a small but significant proportion of society. When I started in the profession 20 years ago you would hardly hear of calorie swapping like this. But now we come about it fairly regularly. People who have not eaten will say, “I’m saving myself for a glass of wine. People are more likely now to use this as a method to control dietary intake in a disordered way.”

Despite the fact that alcohol itself doesn’t contain any fat in it, it is loaded with ‘empty’ calories with no nutritional value to the human body. Add mixers like Coca-Cola into the equation and it is easy to see how the calories start accumulating, and fast.

Whilst it is responsible to be conscious about the amount of alcohol calories going into your body – and possibly using an alcohol unit calculator to do this – it is not responsible to miss out on healthy, nutritional meals, not providing your body with energy, vitamins and minerals it so sorely requires.

Charity workers say the issue of ‘drunkorexia’ could also be afflicting men, despite the fact that it is women who are more likely to speak about the problem.

Susan Ringwood, from eating disorders charity Beat said that ‘drunkorexia’ is also likely to affect those that have not been previously diagnosed with an eating disorder.

Speaking to The Times, she commented: “We do see these cases, particularly when people are binge drinking at the weekend. It is not necessarily an eating disorder, but it is a disordered approach towards eating and people can easily find themselves trapped by it. If you are trying to live off one or two hundred calories a day, people find it easier to consume small amount of alcohol and briefly feel better than eat food.”

Medical Specialists® Pharmacy are now able to actually help those with alcohol addiction through the alcohol dependency treatment Selincro (nalmefene). This medication is suited for people who are heavy drinkers, but don’t require immediate detoxification, and whom have a high level of alcohol consumption 2 weeks after the first consultation with the doctor. This is defined as more than 60g of alcohol per day for men or more than 40g of alcohol per day for women. The great news for those who are prescribed it is that there is no risk of becoming dependent on Selincro.

Selincro’s active ingredient nalmefene works by latching onto certain opioid receptors in the brain that are responsible for addictive behaviour, altering their activity, thereby decreasing the urge to continue drinking.

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