My name is Jane, and I'm a drunkorexic

Forget manorexia, there's a new eating disorder buzzword in town.

Published March 3, 2008 11:40PM (EST)

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the hottest non-medical buzzword for an eating disorder since "manorexia." It's drunkorexia!

The New York Times reports that drunkorexia is "a disturbing blend of behaviors: self-imposed starvation or bingeing and purging, combined with alcohol abuse." There is a rainbow's array of drunkorexics, reports the Times. There is the college girl who starves herself during the day to make up for the calories she consumes during nighttime drinking binges, the young woman who binges on both food and alcohol before purging, or the anorexic who uses alcohol to numb the pain of having eaten to perceived excess.

Dr. Douglas Bunnell, director of outpatient clinical services for the Renfrew Center, explains: "Binge drinking is almost cool and hip, and losing weight and being thin is a cultural imperative for young women in America. Mixing both is not surprising, and it has reached a tipping point in terms of public awareness." Medically, it isn't a surprising combination, either. As the Times reports, "Psychologists say that eating disorders, like other addictions, are often rooted in the need to numb emotional pain with substances or the rush provided by bingeing and purging." Roughly 25 to 33 percent of bulimics and 20 to 25 percent of anorexics struggle with substance abuse.

In other words, just as men account for a quarter of those with anorexia or bulimia, drug and alcohol abuse is a common companion to eating disorders. Despite these being such common characteristics of eating disorders, buzzwords like "manorexia" and "drunkorexia" still catch hold as though they were a separate disease. Part of me wants to believe that maybe, just maybe, by removing a touch of the stigma attached to anorexia and bulimia, these non-medical diagnoses actually make it easier for some to recognize their illness. But it seems far more likely that these silly buzzwords make light of a serious sickness. Thoughts?

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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