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With Halloween fast approaching, Ohio University students are looking forward to the night Court Street is alive with music, masked-men and women, laughter and plenty of drinking. Many Bobcats fail to recognize a hidden element to all the merriment, though: eating disorders.
“Drunkorexia” is defined in an LA Times article as “a condition in which people eat very few calories, if any, during the day and then drink — or even binge drink — later.” Psychology Today simplified it further with the mantra, “Eat less, drink more.” Drunkorexia is also associated with over-exercising and taking laxatives to compensate for the calories consumed while drinking. For many, what started as “I won’t eat dinner because I’m going out tonight,” has turned into “I’ll just drink my calories today.”
Not surprisingly, drunkorexia is most prevalent among college-aged people, particularly women, said an ABC News article. Women tend to skip meals to “save calories” for the night. Men demonstrate drunkorexic tendencies as well, usually through hours at the gym or limiting meals to one a day on the nights they know they’ll be going out.
This trend, in many ways, is both counter-productive and dangerous. First, many people who engage in drunkorexic behavior have a tendency to binge-eat after their night of drinks. Because no college student ever binge-eats celery and quinoa, most people engaging in drunkorexia will eat a large amount of junk food. Let’s face it: Athens’ nightlife is filled with plenty of unhealthy snack options for any partygoer with the munchies; therefore, weight may be gained instead of lost.
Second, alcohol has very little nutritional value: according to Waitrose, most drinks have little to no protein or carbohydrates and are packed with sugar. Third, as discussed by Elite Daily, when drinking on an empty stomach, alcohol absorbs into the blood much faster than it does after eating; this will make you drunk much faster. Although, in many cases, this will make you shake and experience headaches, it can have much more severe results. According to Recovery Connection, a person who is practicing drunkorexia will likely be unable to absorb the alcohol fast enough, especially if he or she is binge drinking. This can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal.
Drunkorexia, according to the LA Times, can also pave the road to alcoholism. After getting used to skipping meals, your body will begin to crave alcohol because it knows your drinks of choice will give you the boost in blood sugar you desperately need. This natural craving may cause you to become hyper-dependent on alcohol.
Whether drunkorexia is an eating disorder or not is still up in the air. Many doctors will classify it with other eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, because they share similar elements: purging and binging. Others point to it as yet another sign of the conformity of youth, as well as the desire to be accepted by peers, said Psychology Today.
Although drunkorexia is an issue that plagues many campuses nationwide, there are not treatments for it because it is not a medically diagnosable disorder. Rather, it is more so a combination of multiple disorders and alcoholism. Some programs, such as AlcoholEdu, provide information and resources on issues such as substance abuse and alcoholism, but the dangers of drunkorexia are not ever addressed because few even recognize yet. Whether the trend comes to a head with an awareness movement will only be determined with time.