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Drunkorexia What is it? The Effects of College Alcohol Binge Drinking and Not Eating

Updated on May 9, 2012

What is Drunkorexia?

It must be some made up school kids name, right? Wrong. It involves school kids, but as for being made up, not a chance.

Drunkorexia is a dangerous 'trend' that is occurring in colleges across the Nation. I use the word trend because there is no actual medical term for this behavior. The term drunkorexia is a combination of two words. Drunk and Anorexia . Drunorexia is replacing food with alcohol.

Dr. Kevin Prince, Alcohol & Other Drug Education Program Coordinator at the University  Health Services in Austin, Texas states that  "Abuse counselors are putting the word 'drunkorexia' in line with other eating disorders because the patient uses the same type of methods as anorexia and bulimia- they just mix it with alcohol too."

There is high calories in alcohol. Women know this. To avoid consuming extra calories from alcohol, the girl skips meals, somehow balancing it out. The girl does not gain weight and feels the alcohol much sooner.


Binge Drinking

There has been an increase in reports of binge drinking among College students. And based off the latest statistics, it is found that 30 percent of young women with alcohol problems also have some form of eating disorder.

Women digest alcohol much differently than men. Women have a higher proportion of body fat than men. Fat does not absorb alcohol. Women also have less of a gastric enzyme in their stomachs. This is what breaks down the alcohol before it enters her bloodstream.

When a woman drinks one drink, it will have almost the same effect as two drinks have on a man. If the woman eats very little or skips food all together, that multiplies the effects of drinking alcohol.

When not eating and heavy drinking mix, you have a recipe for disaster.


1 or 2 out of every 100 students will suffer from an Eating Disorder

Health Risks of Eating Disorder

First off, let's look at the health risks of eating disorders and then Heavy Drinking risks.

  • Heart disease

The heart may slow or become irregular. Potentially causing cardiac arrest

  • Absence of menstruation (amenorrhea)

The menstrual cycle can become irregular or absent due to unbalanced hormone levels

  • Anemia

Iron deficiency, folic acid deficiency and vitamin B12 deficiency anemia are possible from lack of nutrients

  • Bone loss

Osteoporosis is caused by lack of Calcium

  • Stunted growth

Lack of calcium can stop your body from growing normally

  • Bowel irregularities

From the use of Laxatives

  • Kidney damage

Obtained from dehydration and abuse of laxatives

  • Severe tooth decay

Caused by vomiting. The acid eventually wears away the enamel and teeth

  • High or low blood pressure

The strain on the body and heart can change the levels of blood pressure

  • Growth of fine hair over body ( lanugo)

This is caused to warm the body

  • Temperature Decrease

Lack of muscle and fat can cause a feeling of 'cold'

  • Brittle hair or hair loss
  • Nails are Brittle
  • Dry and yellowish skin

Due to dehydration and the effect on the liver. Yellowish skin is called jaundice.

According the the National Institute of Mental Health;

"Many people with anorexia also have coexisting psychiatric and physical illnesses, including depression, anxiety, obsessive behavior, substance abuse, cardiovascular and neurological complications, and impaired physical development."

Health Risks of Heavy Drinking

According to the National Institute on Alcohol and Abuse "An estimated 5.3 million women in the United States drink in a way that threatens their health, safety, and general well-being"

Some specific health problems are:

  • Liver Complications

Women are more likely than men to develop alcoholic hepatitis (liver inflammation) and to die from cirrhosis.

  • Cancer

There is an increased risk of breast cancer for heavy female drinkers

  • Brain Disease

Women and men are susceptible to loss of brain function, reduction in size and changes in brain cells due to heaving drinking

  • Heart Disease

Women are more susceptible to alcohol-related heart disease, such as cardiovascular disease.

Women who heavily drink have higher reports of 'blacking out' or 'passing out.' The girls judgement is also altered which makes her risk of being a target for sexual abuse or violence much higher. 

The health risks associated with Anorexia and Bulimia are frightening enough, but adding the health risks of heavy drinking on top of them devastating. The body can only take so much and by combining the dangers of both diseases the outcome is nound to be irreversible or deadly.

Who is responsible?

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

  1. Extreme confusion
  2. Inability to be awakened
  3. Seizures
  4. Slow or irregular breathing
  5. Low body temperature- cold to the touch
  6. Bluish or pale skin

Call 911 Immediately

Media and Eating Disorders

The media has a great influence on young girls. Celebrities and models are somewhat of a role-model. So is it really a surprise that our young women want to be just as thin and just as popular?

Binge drinking has become a "cool" thing to do. To be part of the party you must 'hold your own.' Peer pressure doesn't stop in High Scool and saying "No" is hard to do.

So what can we do to stop this deadly trend?


Education and Alcohol Laws

Education is key. Education needs to focus on the parents along with the students. Parents, instructors, coaches and peers must know what to look for and how to get the person the help they need.

Tougher on-campus alcohol laws need to be in effect. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest;

"Binge drinking negatively affects college students’ academic performance, social relationships and health. Frequent binge drinkers are 21 times more likely than non-binge drinkers to miss classes, fall behind in schoolwork, engage in vandalism, be injured or hurt, engage in unplanned sexual activity, not use protection when having sex, get in trouble with campus police, or drive a car after drinking."

Some Universities are banning alcohol in Fraternities and Sororities. Others are threatening to call parents when caught drinking. Other Colleges are receiving monies to promote non-alcoholic activities and the overall effects of alcohol. This is a start.

It is sad to say that college kids are still going to drink and probably binge. If they cannot on campus they will off-campus. And what is more scary is that girls will continue to skip meals and drink as a way of avoiding gaining weight.

What can we do to stop this age of self-destruction?

I wish I had the answer, but I do not.

Unfortunately no else seems to either. 


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