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Drunkorexia: 5 Signs Your College Student's Heavy Drinking May Indicate Drunkorexia

Tim Boyer's picture

Drunkorexia is a weight loss method favored by college students that couples heavy drinking with anorexia. The problem with drunkorexia is that it leads to malnutrition and the risk of alcoholism. Studies show that female college students run the highest risk of developing heavy drinking related drunkorexia. Due to the nature of drunkorexia, signs of drunkorexia mimic those of both alcoholism and anorexia.

The results of a recent study by researchers at the University of Missouri show that college students who try to lose or control their weight by skipping meals prior to a party to offset the increased caloric intake from alcoholic drinks are developing a condition known popularly as drunkorexia.

Female college students are particularly susceptible to developing drunkorexia because of physiological demands and social pressures. In comparison to the male body, the female body is less able to process equally consumed amounts of alcohol during bouts of heavy drinking and therefore suffer the effects of alcohol quicker and with more health-related damage. The problem is further exacerbated by social peer pressure to maintain a thin figure and to be “one of the crowd” during heavy drinking binge parties or while clubbing with friends.

What makes drunkorexia insidious is that it often starts slowly with occasional restricted caloric intake the day before a party. However, eventually this behavior develops into an eating and drinking habit that progresses into a disorder as the individual discovers that when it comes to weight loss—drunkorexia works.

If you suspect or are worried that your college student may be becoming drunkorexic, the following five signs are potential indicators that a problem does exist and needs to be addressed:

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1. Drunkorexics tend to party often, preceded by skipping meals. Is there a drop in withdrawals from her meal plan account? Can he or she easily recite how many calories there are in a range of beers or other alcoholic drinks?

2. Rapid weight loss may occur, although some maintain a normal body weight by gorging with the binging or gorging the morning after.

3. Cognition problems are common. Is your student’s grades slipping and/or seems to be having more difficulties than normal with her classes?

4. Excessive tooth decay. Because drunkorexics start their binge drinking on an empty stomach, they get drunk much faster and tend to vomit either the alcohol alone or with food taken while drinking, resulting in stomach acid damaging their teeth.

5. Changes in behavior. Drunkorexia can exacerbate moodiness and feelings of depression.

If you feel that your college student is at risk of becoming drunkorexic, but are unsure, then it’s time to talk. Talk to your student, talk to his or her roommate, a dorm RA, Facebook friends and high school classmates, their families, etc. People talk. And if a drunkorexia problem does exist, it is likely that someone who cares, knows about it and would want you to know too. Many college campuses will provide information toward identifying a student health problem and will help you find a solution.

Source: University of Missouri News Release