Jane has a habit of starving herself. She devours one fourth of the average calorie content for an active teenage girl: 2000 calories a day. Most see her as the girl who starves herself on pure fruit, vegetables, and of course, no carbs. She works out with just water in her stomach as fuel. She is just one of many girls have some type of eating disorder at Newport Harbor. Jane, however, mixes alcohol into her low-calorie diet, and chooses hard liquor over eating dinner. Jane has fallen into the trend of Drunkorexia.
"Abuse counselors are putting the word 'drunkorexia' in line with other eating disorders because the patient uses the same type of methods as anorexia and bulimia- they just mix it with alcohol too," said Dr. Kevin Prince, Alcohol & Other Drug Education Program Coordinator at the University Health Services in Austin, Texas. This problematic behavior has been coined by the media for the last half of the decade, but with today’s pressure and obsession with self-image, this issue is making recent headlines. Drunkorexia targets women from those in their teens up to into their early thirties. According to The Morning Show, “30% of 18-24 year-olds skip food in order to drink more.” What may have been a problem just a few years ago is spreading rapidly.
What seems to be the motive behind this dangerous trend?
Women are being blinded by the dangers of drinking on empty stomachs because of the lack of awareness and growing pressure of self-image. Skipping out on meals saves money and calories, and it helps girls reach drunkenness faster. Many sugary hard alcohol drink mixtures and beer obtain are high in calorie content and can add up quickly. In order to keep daily calorie content low, drunkorexia victims will choose to skip out on meals in order to drink. This problem is seen predominantly in girls during their college years. The “Freshman 15” in college is feared by those who want to maintain a skinny image. Balancing a college schedule leaves little room for working out which is why girls resort to starvation. In high school, the pressure to maintain a skinny image comes from peer pressure and sites like Tumblr and Pintrest that promote unhealthy models. Girls that are developing eating disorders are still pressured like every other teen to engage in alcohol, smoking, and drug use. Not only are both of these habits bad, but when mixing them together they result in some deadly consequences.
What is happening to those who are participating?
A new study from the University of Missouri shows that college students who partake in this are affecting their long-term health. "Apart from each other, depriving the brain of adequate nutrition and consuming large amounts of alcohol can be dangerous," Victoria Osborne, assistant professor of social work and public health at Missouri said in a press release. "Together, they can cause short- and long-term cognitive problems including difficulty concentrating, studying and making decisions." Other consequences are damage to vital organs and metabolism, as well as putting oneself in danger for the consequences of becoming drunk, and possibly over-dosing. Once one develops an eating disorder, they destroy their body for life. All organs become significantly weaker from being deprived, especially the heart. More often than not, eating disorders go hand-in-hand with substance abuse.
According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, "alcoholism and eating disorders frequently co–occur and often co–occur in the presence of other psychiatric and personality disorders."
At Newport, girls are falling into this dangerous trend without the proper education of these consequences. A serious question to ask is: who is to blame? Our school for not spreading enough awareness, or society for increasing expectations placed on the average student and adult, inducing stress.