National Eating Disorders Association
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Substance Abuse

We don’t have to tell you that our toxic consumer culture is a major driver of our society’s obsession with weight. You know it. We know it. And the $66 billion diet industry knows it. What the diet industry does not want you to know, though, is that most of what they sell is at best useless junk -- and that could not be truer than for diet pills. Almost all the over-the-counter (OTC) diet pills and powders on the U.S.

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Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders

Substance AbuseSubstance abuse problems may begin before or during an eating disorder, or even after recovery. Those struggling with co-occurring substance use and disordered eating should speak with a trained professional who can understand, diagnose, and treat both substance use disorders and eating disorders.

As a person who struggled with an eating disorder and a co-occurring substance abuse problem, I spent nearly a decade lying. 

I lied about how much I was eating, I lied about how often I was eating, and I lied about what I was doing after I was eating.

I lied about how much I was drinking, I lied about how often I was drinking, and I lied about my ability to stop once I started drinking. 

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My adolescence and teenage years were rocky, to say the least. 

On the surface, I fought to project an image of a person in control, a person who strived for perfection: I was the valedictorian of my high school class, I studied at Brown University, and I maintained plenty of friendships. 

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This Alcohol Awareness Month, it’s important to carefully consider your relationship with alcoholic substances. Today, April 6, marks National Alcohol Screening Day (NASD), and there’s no better time to educate yourself and your loved ones about the symptoms of substance use disorders, which commonly co-occur with eating disorders. 

According to a piece published on the NEDA website by Amy Baker Dennis Ph.D. & Bethany Helfman Psy.D.:

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Substance abuse problems may begin before or during an eating disorder, or even after recovery. Those struggling with co-occurring substance use and disordered eating should speak with a trained professional who can understand, diagnose, and treat both substance use disorders and eating disorders.

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Dr. Lesley Williams is a certified eating disorder specialist, family medicine physician and positive body image advocate. She co-owns Liberation Center, an eating disorder treatment facility, in Phoenix, Arizona. Dr. Williams is dedicated to ensuring that all women and men that struggle with eating and body image issues receive the help that they need to overcome and live happy, healthy lives.

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For me, substance abuse goes hand in hand with my eating disorder. Also, and more importantly, I believe substance abuse needs to be a part of the conversation. Addicts have been beaten down and made to believe they are unworthy of social acceptance. Due to this lack of understanding, my confidence has taken a serious turn for the worse. 

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