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Eating Disorder and Substance Abuse Treatment in North Carolina

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Medically Verified: 2/1/24

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All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Eating disorders often exist alongside other conditions such as depression, anxiety, OCD, or substance abuse and addiction. Eating disorder and substance abuse treatment in North Carolina aims to help patients overcome their eating disorders, put an end to drug and alcohol use, and cope with mental illness.

The Relationship Between Addiction and Eating Disorders

People with eating disorders often abuse substances such as alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, laxatives, diuretics, or stimulants. Depending on the type of eating disorder, individuals may try to restrict by suppressing their appetite with stimulants while others will binge and try to lose weight using laxatives or diuretics. The type of substance abuse can also impact a person’s eating habits, behaviors, and lifestyle choices. As a result, many clinicians divide people with eating disorders who abuse substances into three categories:

  1. People who abuse substances that are easily accessible, such as caffeine or cigarettes. While these substances are legal and commonly used, they can suppress appetite.
  2. Those who abuse illegal substances to suppress their appetite or self-medicate. These individuals may abuse addictive drugs like heroin, cocaine, meth, or marijuana.
  3. People who abuse laxatives and diet pills and their substance abuse is directly related to their disordered eating patterns. This group is unique to people with eating disorders, as no other mental health condition commonly co-occurs with laxatives, diuretics, or diet pills.

Regardless of which type of eating disorder a person has (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, etc), these disorders are long-term illnesses. Similar to addiction, people with eating disorders can relapse and they require long-term treatment.

Other similarities between eating disorders and addiction include:

  • Obsessive and compulsive thinking/behaviors
  • Denial about having a problem
  • Secrecy towards loved ones
  • Difficulties at work, school, or home
  • Ritualistic behaviors

Studies suggest between 14-27% of people with eating disorders also struggle with substance abuse.[1] Fortunately, the vast similarities between these two types of conditions allow them to be treated simultaneously.

Therapies For Disordered Eating

Eating disorder and substance abuse treatment centers in North Carolina utilize a variety of different therapies to help treat patients who are struggling with disordered eating patterns. Due to the clinical and medical needs of patients with these concurrent disorders, treatment is usually provided on an inpatient basis.[2] Therapies offered may include:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Enhanced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT-E)CBT and CBT-E aim to help patients change their beliefs and attitudes about weight and body image.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) – ACT encourages patients to focus on their actions rather than their feelings. Patients identify their values and work towards achieving their goals.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – DBT is a form of therapy that focuses on replacing negative behaviors with healthy coping skills. DBT can help with mindfulness, stress, emotion regulation, and interpersonal relationships.
  • Cognitive Remediation Therapy (CRT) – CRT is a form of behavioral therapy that helps patients change their thinking through guided exercises, reflection, and supervision.
  • Family TherapyFamily therapy focuses on restoring family support to promote eating disorder and substance abuse recovery.
  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) – IPT focuses on the idea that disordered eating can occur in a social and interpersonal context. This therapy helps clients improve their personal relationships, develop communication skills, and resolve issues.

These therapies can be provided on a group or individual basis. Many inpatient rehab centers in North Carolina will use both group and individual counseling sessions.

Integrated Treatment for Substance Abuse and Disordered Eating

Eating disorders have the ability to impact every area of a person’s life. It can cause them problems with their family, work-life, and even their health. However, when a person struggles with disordered eating and drug or alcohol abuse, these issues can become more complex and severe. And, if only one condition is addressed during treatment, it can be easy for patients to slip back into old behaviors and experience a relapse in one or both of their conditions. As a result, it is important to treat both addiction and eating disorders at the same time.

First and foremost, patients need a comprehensive medical evaluation. Eating disorders can lead to malnutrition, gastrointestinal issues, heart problems, and so much more. At the same time, substance abuse can exacerbate these symptoms and come with its own slew of problems, like a decreased immune system, blood-borne illnesses, or severe withdrawal symptoms. Eating disorder and substance abuse treatment in North Carolina begins with medical care and detox to address these concerns and help patients get their bodies healthy.

After detox, patients move into inpatient where they participate in the above-listed therapies as well as substance abuse therapies, such as:

  • CBT
  • Family therapy
  • Relapse prevention and education
  • 12-Step facilitation
  • Support groups
  • Holistic therapies

This type of integrated treatment approach can effectively help individuals manage their conditions and live a healthy and happy life in recovery.

Find Eating Disorder and Substance Abuse Treatment in North Carolina

Treatment for eating disorders and drug or alcohol abuse should be compassionate, individualized, and comprehensive to give patients the best chances at a full recovery. Here at Carolina Center for Recovery, our team takes a multidisciplinary approach to help people tackle their innermost demons and overcome whatever challenges life throws their way. To learn more about our treatment programs or to find eating disorders and substance abuse treatment in Charlotte, pick up the phone and call us today.