Behaviors Associated with Drinking, Result in Unhealthy Diet
An Australian study explored how college students, especially women, are engaging in unhealthy diet habits to offset calories from drinking copious amounts of alcohol. The intention behind this is to be able to drink alcohol and still be thin (i.e., avoid gaining weight from consuming empty calories from alcohol). But the actual result is two very harmful habits—drinking too much and purging or under-eating. It’s essential to explore the problem as a whole, to examine how the two issues combine to create a very unhealthy condition.
Alcohol Addiction – A Seriously Harmful Crisis of the Mind and Body
By itself, alcohol addiction is hazardous and destructive. Misusing alcohol comes with a long list of harmful side effects that hamper one’s physical and mental health.
Misusing alcohol is also deadly. About 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes in the United States every year, more than all types of drug-related deaths combined.
When people drink to excess, alcohol directly harms key regions and systems of the body, including:
Physical Effects of Drinking Alcohol to Excess
- Alcohol Effects the Brain. Not only does alcohol interfere with the brain’s communication channels, but consuming alcohol over time can alter how the brain looks and works.
- Heavy drinking done over time can damage the heart. Excessive alcohol consumption can directly result in conditions such as cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, stroke, and high blood pressure.
- Heavy drinking takes a severe toll on the liver. Because the liver is directly responsible for processing alcohol, the liver can be subject to severe ailments such as steatosis, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis.
- Alcohol can cause pancreatitis—a dangerous condition within the pancreas that involves the swelling of blood vessels in the pancreas. That can prevent proper digestion.
- Alcohol consumption harms the body’s immune response. People who drink to excess are much easier targets for diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis. Even drinking on just one occasion inhibits the body’s ability to ward off infection for as much as 24 hours after getting drunk.
- Alcohol is directly related to a list of cancers. Some of them include head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer.
An Australian Study Examines Poor Eating Habits and Excessive Drinking Done in Tandem
As if alcohol’s effects on the body were not harmful enough, alcohol often causes people to take on more unhealthy habits. For example, a study in an Australian journal announced findings that college students, particularly female students, will often diet, exercise, or purge specifically to offset calories they consume from alcohol.
Of close to 500 Australian female college students surveyed, about eight in ten engaged in unhealthy behaviors in tandem with excessive drinking. Such habits included skipping meals, switching to low-calorie or sugar-free alcoholic beverages, purging, exercising after drinking, etc.
About three in ten survey participants admitted to engaging in poor eating behaviors, specific drinking behaviors, and rigorous exercise following drinking specifically to offset caloric intake from excessive drinking. This indicates that study participants are deliberately taking on unhealthy habits in other areas of their life to support an already very unhealthy habit, i.e., excessive alcohol consumption. As Dr. Alycia Powell-Jones of the University of South Australia who authored the study put it: “Our research indicates that this behavior can be a coping strategy potentially to manage social anxieties, through becoming accepted and fitting in.”
“Our research indicates that this behavior can be a coping strategy potentially to manage social anxieties, through becoming accepted and fitting in.”
In more detail, the research tells us that people who begin misusing alcohol often take on other unhealthy changes to support the initial harmful activity of drinking. As it turns out, drinking to excess can launch a surge of unhealthy activities and actions, each of which plays off the other and further deteriorates the individual’s physical and mental health.
According to Simon Sherry, a neuroscience professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, “Individuals who engage in these relatively common behaviors will be at risk to develop the full-blown version of an eating disorder or the full-blown version of a substance use disorder. One of the riskiest things here is that you could move further down a continuum of having a mental illness. I think that intervention could easily and flexibly take into account this pattern of behavior whereby alcohol gets woven into a pattern of disordered eating.”
“Individuals who engage in these relatively common behaviors will be at risk to develop the full-blown version of an eating disorder or the full-blown version of a substance use disorder. One of the riskiest things here is that you could move further down a continuum of having a mental illness. I think that intervention could easily and flexibly take into account this pattern of behavior whereby alcohol gets woven into a pattern of disordered eating.”
Dr. Sherry’s optimism is not unfounded. Though it is harmful and dangerous to take on multiple unhealthy behaviors in tandem, all such behaviors can be effectively addressed when the right treatment methodology is utilized.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment – Getting Off of Alcohol for Good
If you know someone who is misusing alcohol, they must get help as soon as possible. The alcohol addiction itself causes them serious harm, but it’s also likely they’ve taken on other unhealthy habits to support their alcohol consumption. Don’t let this dwindling spiral of unhealthy choices be the end of them. Contact Narconon today to ensure your loved one gets the help they need.