Substance Misuse Among Women with Eating Disorders Essay

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Substance Misuse Among Women with Eating Disorders

Research on eating disorders has revealed a greater incidence of substance use and/or misuse in women with eating disorders than in the general population. Most of the research agrees that substance misuse is more common in patients with bulimia nervosa and the binge eating/purging subtype of patients with anorexia than in women with the restricting subtype of anorexia nervosa. Researchers and specialists have proposed a range of theories to account for the strong association between substance misuse and bulimia nervosa. Experiments have not provided evidence to conclusively support any one theory. However, studies conducted in the past decade have enabled researchers to refine
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al., 1996, Bulik, 1994, Welch et. al., 1996 ). The agreement ends here. While some studies maintain that eating disorders drive substance abuse, many researchers assert that personality characteristics or environmental and biological factors that make individuals more prone to eating disorders also make these persons more likely to use/abuse substances. Thus, an eating disorder and substance abuse may provide a similar appeal to individuals with specific characteristics. Experiments to determine the factors that make patients vulnerable to both eating disorders and substance abuse focus on personality traits, such as behavior undercontrol and novelty seeking, environmental factors, like culture and family, and biological factors such as hormone levels.

The most accepted theory asserts that behavioral undercontrol and high Novelty Seeking propensity are characteristics common to patients that are prone to eating disorders and substance abuse problems. Bulimic women with substance abuse problems have higher scores on Novelty Seeking for Cloninger's Tridimensional Personality Questionaire than normals and than women with bulimia who do not also report problems with substance abuse (Kaye, 1994, Bulik et. al.1994). High scores on novelty seeking are accompanied by personality characteristics such as emotionality, unstable mood states and behavioral undercontrol. It is believed that these characteristics make bulimic, substance abusing women more
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