A new study conducted by American researchers has found a significant correlation between eating disorders and substance misuse among college students. The research, which analyzed data from a large sample of over 400,000 students participating in the American College Health Association – National College Health Assessment (ACHA-NCHA II), provides strong evidence for a link between the two issues.

Previous studies on this topic have often been limited by small sample sizes, making it difficult to draw conclusions about the relationship on a larger scale. However, the results of this latest study indicate that individuals with eating disorders may be at a higher risk for substance misuse and addiction.

Note that early detection, proper treatment and addressing both disorders simultaneously is crucial for a successful recovery. Eating disorders and substance misuse often occur together and if left untreated, it can lead to serious health consequences.

For educators, healthcare professionals, and parents to be aware of the potential connection between eating disorders and substance misuse, and to take steps to identify and support individuals who may be struggling with these issues.

Eating Disorders Linked to Increased Risk of Substance Misuse

According to researchers, students with eating disorders are at a significantly increased risk for substance misuse. This includes the consumption of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamines, sedatives, hallucinogens, opiates, MDMA and painkillers.

The study emphasizes the vulnerability of adolescents who suffer from eating disorders, and highlights substance misuse as a significant comorbidity. Furthermore, the researchers suggest that substance misuse can have an even greater impact on the mental, emotional and physical health of individuals already affected by eating disorders, emphasizing the importance of detecting this type of misuse when diagnosing an eating disorder.

This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, where services specialized in the management of eating disorders have reported an unexpected prevalence and distress among patients. The French federation for anorexia and bulimia also echoes these concerns on their website.