Posts Tagged ‘film’

addiction?

February 13, 2008

 

 

 

 

Are eating disorders an

 

 

 

 

 

 

addiction?

 

 

 

Can compulsive eating be compared to an addiction like compulsive gambling?

 

Is the chemical hit produced by periods of starvation similar to that of heroin?

 

Are eating disorders an addiction?

 

 

…This is surely one of the most controversial and emotionally laden subjects in the mental health field. In this article I will explore ways in which an eating disorder is (and isn’t) like an addiction…

 

 

 

 

I personally do not subscribe to the idea that anorexia, bulimia and binge eating are addictions. This is because eating does not create the biological dependencies which are implicit in addiction to drugs such as nicotine or crack cocaine.

For example, chemical changes occur within the body of an alcoholic so that they physically need alcohol to function in a “normal” way.

 

 

When I suffered from anorexia I was emotionally and mentally dependent on starving. There were a million reasons why I felt “unable” to eat, and physically I was unable to digest very much food because my stomach had shrunk. But I did not physically need to starve so that I could function. My need not to eat was primarily mental rather than physical.

 

 

 

 

“Addictive personality”…?

 

Up to date research suggests that only 5% of drug or alcohol users become chemically addicted and that particular personality “types” are most likely to become dependent, regardless of the chemicals used.

 

 

Certain childhood behaviours may predict adult addictive tendencies… there are “early warning” signs. You only have to sit in an AA or NA meeting to hear people in recovery describe how they knew they were an “addict” long before they ever picked up their first drink or experimented with their first drug.

 

 

Common features include childhood feelings of inadequacy, loneliness and isolation. Children who are very shy or very loud. Unhappy children who use ritualistic behaviours to soothe their internal pain. Repetitive tapping or stepping, talking to one’s self, making up secret “rules” to manage anger or anxiety.

 

 

When I was a child I said individual prayers on behalf of everybody, everybody I knew, every night. I even said a prayer from the people I didn’t know. I said one from the people I would meet one day and another from those I would never meet. I said extra prayers in case I forgot anybody… it took hours. I wasn’t a religious child, but I would wake up guilty and terrified if I forgot anybody.

 

I never stepped on cracks, I only sat on the floor at home, I touched things the same number of times with my right hand and then my left. I walked the long way to school to avoid passing the Golden Labrador pup. All the children loved to pet him ~ but I couldn’t bare to leave him. I couldn’t go until I saw another kid in the distance and knew he wouldn’t be alone.

 

I failed miserably to communicate with children my own age and preferred to play by myself. I wasn’t bullied, but I had no friends. I could go on and on… mostly small, quiet things which nobody ever noticed; but my childhood was a series of carefully balanced rituals planned to avoid or justify feelings of guilt. Such disassociative actions could be perceived as the early emergence of addictive behaviour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Addictions and Eating Disorders

 

 

 

Shared Characteristics

 

 

Eating disorders certainly share many characteristics, symptoms and behaviour trends with addictions. It is common to hear people describe themselves as being “addicted” to chocolate or salty foods. They also feel deprived when they can not eat these foods and crave them.

 

 

People with eating disorders (for example anorexia) may achieve both an emotional and physiological “high” when starving. A bulimic might experience stress release of tension relief when purging. Compulsive eating can provide both a rush of energy with sugar, than drowsiness when satiated. At the beginning, there is always a “reward”.

 

 

 

Some shared

 

 

 

characteristics:

 

 

Secrecy

 

 

Deception and lies (e.g. pretending to have eaten)

 

 

Ritual (Rules and specific patterns of eating, a particular routine for vomiting, etc)

 

 

Pre-occupation (constantly thinking about food)

 

Use of a behaviour or drug to “cope”

 

 

Prioritising compulsive behaviour or addiction above all else

 

 

(e.g. above relationships, finance, physical and emotional health) etc

 

 

Illegal behaviour to support behabiour (such as shoplifting)

 

 

Social withdrawal and depression

 

 

Gradual reduction in the “positive” effects of their disorder or addiction and an increase in drug or behaviour use to compensate.

 

 

Ultimately, eating disorders can become the centre of a person’s life in the same way as any chemical addiction and sufferers are likely to feel emotionally unable to cease damaging behaviours.

 

 

The relationship between eating

 

 

 

 

 

 

disorders and chemical addiction

 

 

 

 

 

Statistically, there is no hard evidence to suggest that people with eating disorders are more likely to have alcoholics or chemical addicts as close family members. I personally find this surprising to the point of disbelief.

 

 

The majority of sufferers I know have some family experience of addiction.

There is evidence to suggest that somebody with a close family member who has an eating disorder is four or five times more likely to develop one themselves. But this could be learned behaviour. We already know that amongst young girls who are not genetically related, a single sufferer can significantly increase the risk of eating disorders in her peers.

 

 

Finally, there is much written about the prevalence of cross addiction or co-morbidity. It is indisputable that a huge amount of people with eating disorders also suffer from a chemical addication or self-injury (self-harm). There is so much to say on this subject… I guess that’s another blog.

 

 

Addiction or not – an addiction model can be a helpful form of treatment. OA (which adopts the AA 12-step recovery model) provides free self-help groups world wide. And whilst the abstinence model may be negated (a person with an eating disorder must learn to manage eating healthily if they wish to recover) the emphasis on peer identification, openness, acceptance and personal responsibility can be empowering and supportive.

 

 

Interested in this subject? You may find the short film below helpful………

 

 

 

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The Reality of Bulimia…..

February 10, 2008

 

Bulimia

The true horror of eating disorders is minimised. Whilst the media and social forums glamorise anorexia as being “heroin chic” ~ bulimia nervosa is almost completely ignored as socially taboo.

Adding to the problem is the fact that the Welsh medical community still diagnose the severity of an eating disorder in terms of bmi (low body weight). This entirely inadequate diagnostic tool all but disqualifies severe bulimics from accessing a level of help appropriate to their need.

Bulimia does not always cause low body weight. In fact, severe bulimics who consume huge quantities of high calorie, sugary food before purging are more likely to be slightly over-weight. This is because their body digests a percentage of the food they consume almost instantly.

Bulimia kills

Bulimia kills. It causes a range of chemical imbalances in the body which trigger cardiac arrest (stopping the heart) or brain damage.

Bulimia can also cause gastric rupture (rupture of the stomach), leading to death. Lung collapse, internal bleeding, stroke, kidney failure, liver failure; pancreatitis and perforated ulcers. Depression and suicide are a high cause of fatality in bulimics. The affects of binging and purging on an unborn child are brutal and irreversible.

This short film documents some of the fatalities resulting from bulimia nervosa. (There is another, far more brutal film at the end of this blog entry).

minimised

The physical affects of

 

Bulimia Nervosa

Malnutrition
Dehydration
Electrolyte imbalance (Can lead to cardiac arrest, which can also result in brain damage by stroke.)
Hyponatremia
Damaging of the voice
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
Teeth erosion and cavities, gum disease
Sialadenosis (salivary gland swelling)
Potential for gastric rupture during periods of binging
Esophageal reflux
Irritation, inflammation, and possible rupture of the esophagus
Laxative dependence
Peptic ulcers and pancreatitis
Emetic toxicity due to ipecac abuse
Swelling of the face and cheeks, especially apparent in the lower eyelids due to the high pressure of blood in the face during vomiting.
Callused or bruised fingers
Dry or brittle skin, hair, and nails, or hair loss
Lanugo
Edema
Muscle atrophy
Decreased/increased bowel activity
Digestive problems that may be triggered, including Celiac, Crohn’s Disease
Low blood pressure, hypotension
Orthostatic hypotension
High blood pressure, hypertension
Iron deficiency
Anemia
Hormonal imbalances
Hyperactivity
Depression
Insomnia
Amenorrhea
Infertility
High risk pregnancy, miscarriage, still-born babies
Diabetes
Elevated blood sugar or hyperglycemia
Ketoacidosis
Osteoporosis
Arthritis
Weakness and fatigue
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Cancer of the throat or voice box
Liver failure
Kidney infection and failure
Heart failure, heart arrhythmia, angina
Seizure
Paralysis
Potential death caused by heart attack or heart failure; lung collapse; internal bleeding, stroke, kidney failure, liver failure; pancreatitis, gastric rupture, perforated ulcer, depression and suicide.

 

 

 

Bulimia in the UK: Fast facts

 

Approximately 1-2 percent of women in the UK suffer from bulimia.


Every year there are as many as 18 new cases of bulimia nervosa per 100,000 population per year.

Between 1 and 3 percent of young women are thought to be bulimic at any given moment in time.

According to some studies, as many as 8 percent of women suffer from bulimia at some stage in their life, and it affects about 5 percent of female college students.

People who have close relatives with bulimia are four times more likely to develop the disease than people who do not.

Studies indicate that about 5 out of 10 people with bulimia are healthy 10 years after diagnosis; while 2 out of 10 still have bulimia and 3 out of 10 are partially recovered.

Approximately 5 percent of bulimia sufferers go on to develop anorexia nervosa.

 

The final film/audio here really brings home the horror of death by of bulimia nervosa.
Please be aware that this film contains some graphic imagery and is explicit re. details of death. Although I am familiar with reading about stomach rupture and organ failure, I personally find the narrative deeply upsetting.
I spent a long time considering the merits of including such a film, and have decided to do so; because the majority of people who access this blog are sufferers and for them it may be of benefit. That said, I do not reccomend that everyone watch it.

 

 

Short film – anorexia nervosa

February 10, 2008

Anorexia, illness and addiction (short audio/film)

February 4, 2008

A short video aimed ar people who suffer from anorexia. Inspirational and pro-recovery. Copy and paste the link below: http://www.osyakuza.com/2008/02/04/anorexia-illness-addiction-and-choice/