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How Do I Find Treatment for Eating Disorders and Addiction?

Eating disorders are one of the most common mental health conditions in America. In fact, 20 million women and 10 million men in America struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their lives.[1] The most common types of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa and bulimia. 

Even further, eating disorders commonly co-occur with substance use disorders. This is primarily due to the psychiatric symptoms associated with eating disorders. 

When someone suffers from a comorbid eating disorder and substance use disorder, professional treatment is vital. In West Palm Beach, treatment for eating disorders and addiction typically consists of behavioral therapy, nutritional support, peer support, and aftercare.

What is the Relationship Between Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse?

Eating disorders are psychiatric conditions. In other words, disordered eating is not the only symptom of an eating disorder. Individuals may suffer from perfectionism, social anxiety, unstable moods, negative thought patterns, shifting self-image, depression, and emotional hypersensitivity. 

Dealing with an array of uncomfortable emotions can be extremely difficult. When an individual does not have proper coping mechanisms, they may utilize drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. This is one of the causes of co-occurring addiction and eating disorders. 

In addition, some individuals may abuse substances to enhance their weight loss. This can be extremely dangerous, especially when individuals utilize stimulant drugs like methamphetamine to decrease appetite. Additionally, some individuals may abuse laxatives to counteract binge eating. 

What is Treatment Like for Eating Disorders and Addiction?

Treatment for eating disorders and addictions follows a dual diagnosis treatment plan. In other words, individuals will receive treatment for their eating disorder and substance use disorder simultaneously. This ensures that the individual will recover from both conditions, avoiding future relapses. 

The different aspects of dual diagnosis treatment for eating disorders and addiction include:


Before an individual can begin treatment, they must complete a detoxification program. Individuals suffering from addiction become dependent on the substance. This causes the body to rely on the drug to function properly.

When an individual suddenly stops using the drug, they will experience symptoms of withdrawal. Medical detox programs use FDA-approved medications to limit the severity of withdrawal symptoms and prevent drug cravings. 

Individualized Treatment Plans

Eating disorders and addiction treatment must include individualized treatment plans. This is because each patient may suffer from a different eating disorder and substance use disorder. 

Individualized treatment plans will be determined by the patient’s medical, therapeutic, social, nutritional, and emotional needs. When a patient is admitted into a dual diagnosis program, they will undergo an extensive assessment so doctors and therapists can collaborate to create their treatment plan. 

This ensures that every patient is receiving the treatment they need. Additionally, it limits the amount of time wasted on non-issues for specific patients. 

Nutritional Counseling and Personalized Meal Planning 

Individuals attending treatment for eating disorders need nutritional counseling and personalized meal planning. This helps them create healthy relationships with food. 

For patients with anorexia, this may include:

  • Weight restoration and maintenance 
  • Learning hunger, fullness, and satiety intuition 
  • Regulating phosphate levels in the blood 

For patients with bulimia, this may include:

  • Weight stabilization by decreasing binging and compensation cycling 
  • Learning hunger, fullness, and satiety intuition
  • Stabilizing blood sugar and potassium levels 

Behavioral Therapy and Coping Skills

Behavioral therapy is used to teach patients coping skills for eating disorders and addiction triggers. This shows individuals that there are healthier ways to cope, removing their need to restrict, binge, purge, or abuse substances. 

Common forms of therapy for eating disorders and addiction include:

What to Look for in a Treatment Center for Eating Disorders and Addiction

Finding a reputable treatment center for eating disorders and addiction can be difficult. When looking for a dual diagnosis program to attend, consider the following aspects of a reputable facility. 

A Holistic Approach

Treatment for eating disorders and addictions should always include holistic treatment approaches. Holistic therapies are a form of treatment that focuses on healing the entire person; mind, body, and soul. 

Holistic therapies for eating disorders and addictions may include:

  • Body awareness therapy 
  • Yoga and meditation 
  • Acupuncture 
  • Relaxation therapy (massage)
  • Biofeedback and neurofeedback

Nutrition-Focused Programs

As previously mentioned, treatment for eating disorders must include nutrition counseling and personalized meal planning. When looking for a treatment program to attend, it is best to find a nutrition-focused program. If nutrition counseling is a specialty of that facility, patients will most likely receive a higher level of nutritional care than they would at other programs.

On-Site Medical Care 

Dealing with eating disorders and addiction can lead to some serious physical health conditions. Because of this, having an on-site medical doctor is extremely important. 

Examples of medical conditions caused by eating disorders include:

  • Low blood pressure and heart rate leading to heart failure 
  • Gastroparesis leads to an array of gastrointestinal issues 
  • Constipation 
  • Ruptured stomach or esophagus 
  • Pancreatitis 
  • Intestinal obstruction, perforation, or infections
  • Decreased sex and thyroid hormones 

Examples of medical conditions stemming from addiction and long-term drug abuse:

  • Lowered immune system function leading to infections
  • Cardiovascular diseases 
  • Gastrointestinal complications 
  • Respiratory conditions 
  • Liver and kidney damage 
  • Neurological issues 

Mental Health Professionals Specializing in Eating Disorder Treatment

Lastly, dual diagnosis centers are usually equipped to treat any form of comorbidity. However, individuals suffering from a co-occurring eating disorder should look for a program that specializes in their type of eating disorder.

In doing so, individuals can rest assured that there are doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, and therapists with experience in treating eating disorders at their program.

Find Help for Eating Disorders and Addiction in West Palm Beach Today

If you or a loved one suffer from the co-occurrence of an eating disorder and an addiction, professional treatment is vital. This comorbidity can quickly become life-threatening, causing an array of adverse health effects. 

Because of this, attending a treatment center with experience in eating disorder and substance abuse recovery is important. Contact Mandala Healing Center today for more information on our eating disorder and addiction treatment program in West Palm Beach.