Addictions come in many forms and can wreak havoc on a person’s physical and mental well-being. Chronic overconsumption of alcohol will eventually leave you with permanent damage and could end relationships, make you lose your job and lead to financial ruin.

Eating disorders, such as Bulimia, are damaging too – causing physical decline and mental health issues that too could result in death.

Both of these conditions are well-known but not everyone is aware of how closely they can sometimes be linked. Because of this, it is important to know the dangers of bulimia and alcohol addiction and how to recover and get better.


What is Bulimia?

Bulimia nervosa, or just bulimia, is an eating disorder. Unlike anorexia where a person eats very little, people with bulimia cycle through episodes of binge eating and then purging themselves to combat the effects. Binge eating is defined as consuming a large amount of food in a short space of time. People with this eating disorder purge to maintain control over their weight, in forms such as vomiting, extreme exercising, severe fasting and using laxatives.

Symptoms of bulimia include constipation, discoloured teeth due to regular vomiting, not wanting to eat around others and retreating from social interaction.

Alcohol addiction is a substance use disorder where someone drinks excessive amounts often. An alcoholic keeps drinking, despite the bad effects it is having on their life. Symptoms of alcoholism include experiencing withdrawal symptoms if they stop, shakiness, poor physical appearance and being more reckless.

Alcoholism and bulimia are separate, very dangerous, problems to deal with. Together, they can make a person’s life completely miserable. A person suffering from these co-occurring disorders may experience rapid weight changes, drink alcohol rather than eat and act more impulsively. It can also have a negative impact on people’s health and organ function.


The Dangers of Bulimia and Alcohol Addiction

Co-occurring bulimia and alcohol addiction often occurs due to overlapping behaviours that lead a person to develop the conditions. As stated before, these issues alone bring serious effects and together symptoms such as severe weight fluctuation and being more impulsive can lead to potentially fatal consequences.

Each person is different and reasons for having the dual diagnosis of chronic drinking and having an eating disorder can be varied. However, many common risk factors of bulimia and alcoholism link them often.

Emotional Distress

Drinking heavily is often used as a coping mechanism to deal with or dampen emotions. People that binge eat and then purge themselves often feel great shame, guilt and disgust in themselves afterwards. These conditions can interplay and a cycle can begin. Both can be used by a person to regain some control over their life.


If you have an eating disorder, you may eat to make yourself feel better or reward yourself. You may combine this with drinking to become a “better” version of yourself – be more outgoing and friendly. People self-medicate with food and alcohol to escape stress. This deprivation of food and abuse of alcohol can alter pathways in your brain. Together, these two issues make the development of long-term alcoholism and bulimia more likely which can be very dangerous.

Underlying Psychological Issues

People suffering from these conditions are often suffering from other mental health issues. Alcohol and mental health issues such as depression are common alongside bulimia, as well as other psychological issues such as PTSD and anxiety.


Alcohol and eating disorders go together often enough that the term drunkorexia exists to describe it. This is when someone restricts their diet so that they can drink heavily without any significant weight gain. Alcohol may have calories but it has no nutritional value, so those with drunkorexia will become malnourished pretty quickly.


Health Risks of Bulimia and Alcohol Addiction

The effects of bulimia and alcohol abuse are serious and can lead to long-term physical and psychological health problems. Alongside malnutrition and potential alcohol poisoning, physical bulimia and alcohol addiction risks include:

  • Liver damage
  • Electrolyte imbalances (increase the chance of heart problems)
  • Cancer (especially oesophageal cancer)
  • Stroke

Psychological risks include:

  • Increased anxiety and depression
  • Hospitalisation due to mental health issues
  • Suicidal thoughts and increased risk of acting on them


Treatment Approaches for Alcohol Abuse and Bulimia

If you are experiencing these co-occurring problems then professional in the form of a drug and alcohol rehab is the best way to get better. Asana Lodge offers dual-diagnosis treatment for bulimia and alcohol addiction, offering many forms of therapy to help you.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

This is an evidence-based talking therapy that revolves around learning better-coping skills. In CBT sessions you will learn to better identify triggers and negative thought patterns that lead you to your addictive behaviour. CBT can help you better monitor your behaviour and gain a more positive outlook.

Support Groups

During your time through residential addiction treatment, you can experience sessions with other people. Being around people with similar issues can help you feel less isolated. Knowing there is support around you can help you avoid reverting to old behaviours and instead be more tempted to reach out for help.

Holistic Therapies

As you take away destructive behaviours, holistic therapies available at Asana Lodge can replace them. Practising yoga, mindfulness and meditation can help you relax and become more physically healthy. With improved physical health, your mental health will improve and help you stay focused on recovery.


Seeking Help and Support

Finding support and a sense of community are important in your recovery. Therapies are not the only option for you.

Helplines exist to help you if you are unsure where to turn. Eating Disorder Support is an organisation that offers support to anyone affected by an eating disorder and Alcoholics Anonymous is a well-known organisation that helps people in recovery.

Asana Lodge, besides offering residential addiction treatment, also offers aftercare for people who complete treatment. Through this programme, you get access to support groups that can help you maintain your recovery. Having access to a supportive community is important to recovering from alcoholism and bulimia as you are provided with compassion and emotional support. You can continue to hone your coping skills and people there can keep you on the straight and narrow.


Learn More Today

Alcohol addiction and bulimia are both devastating problems that together can bring serious consequences to a person’s life. If you are worried about your drinking and eating habits, Asana Lodge is a private drug and alcohol rehab that can help you.

For more information about us and our rehabilitation treatments, call today at 01908 489 421. The dangers of bulimia and alcohol addiction are huge – it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible to get your life back on track.


John Gillen - Author - Last Updated: 16 June 2023

John has travelled extensively around the world, culminating in 19 years’ experience looking at different models. He is the European pioneer of Nad+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) treatment to Europe in 2010; and recently back from the USA bringing state of the art Virtual Reality Relapse Prevention and stress reduction therapy. his passion extends to other metabolic disturbances and neurodegenerative diseases.

The journey continues, in recent times john has travelled to Russia to study and research into a new therapy photobiomudulation or systemic laser therapy working with Nad+ scientists and the very best of the medical profession in the UK and the USA, together with Nadcell, Bionad Clinics own select Doctors, nurses, dieticians and therapists, Johns’ passion continues to endeavour to bring to the UK and Europe new developments with Nad+ therapy in preventive and restorative medicine and Wellness. In 2017 John Gillen was made a visiting Professor at the John Naisbitt university in Belgrade Serbia.

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