Eating Disorders and Alcohol Abuse Essay

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Eating Disorders and Alcohol Abuse

The relationship between eating disorders and alcoholism has become a widely researched topic only in the last fifteen years. Since 1985, there have been an increasing number of research and case studies substantiating a correlation between these two behavioral and addictive disorders. Alcoholism affects nearly 14 million United States citizens (http://silk.nih.gov/silk/niaaa1/publication/booklet.htm ). The four basic elements of this disease include a craving for, loss of control over, physical dependence on, and tolerance to alcohol (http://silk.nih.gov/silk/niaaa1/publication/booklet.htm). Unfortunately, there is no cure for alcoholism, although various forms of treatment have become available.
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The mean age of the subjects was 32 years and 7 months and they were equally divided among the upper two social classes. The goal of this research was to examine the past and present eating habits of female alcoholics to determine whether or not a correlation between the two disorders existed. Two methods of research were used to evaluate the subjects: an interview and a questionnaire. One of the authors interviewed each subject individually. The interview consisted of two parts: (1) a detailed assessment of past and present eating behaviors and (2) an evaluation of drinking patterns. The first part of the interview based eating disorders on a variety of patterns, including binge-eating behaviors that lasted for at least 6 months. The second part of the interview used a pre-determined interview created by Stockwell et al. to determine levels of alcohol dependence. The questionnaire consisted of the Eating Attitudes Test, which is "a standardized measure of anorectic and bulimic behavior" (Lacey et al., 1986: pp. 390).

The results of this study supported a correlation between past or present eating disorders and alcoholism. The sample had mild to moderate dependence on alcohol, ranging from continuous to fluctuating intake. 11 members of the sample had experience with binge eating. Nine of the patients had a history of purging to deter weight gain. All of the patients were menstruating and all but one were in normal weight ranges (Lacey et al., 1986). Although six
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