What is Drunkorexia?

Drunkorexia is the media-coined term given to describe a situation wherein teenagers and young adults limit their food intake so that they can drink more alcohol while still engaging in calorie restriction. College-age women are the largest population to engage in drunkorexia, although young men also engagein it.

Often, drunkorexia begins as a way of coping with the stresses of entering college or university. There are pressures on the individual to deal with the new adult environment and its demands and responsibilities, and also campus norms around what constitutes popularity and desirability. As a result, many college-age students starve or binge and purge in the day, and then drink heavily at night.

Drinking on an empty stomach makes it easier to get drunk, and being drunk can seem like a fun and exciting way to numb those social and academic stressors while staying thin and attractive. But the combination of self-imposed starvation and alcohol abuse is potentially deadly.

Drunkorexia leads to higher rates of black-outs, alcohol poisoning, hypoglycemia, and alcohol-related brain damage than drinking alone. In the long term, alcohol-related conditions are increased, such as liver disease, osteoporosis, cardiac problems, diabetes and dementia. Drunkorexic students are also at increased risk for unprotected sex, sexual assault, DUIs, and hospitalization
Because drunkorexia is so unhealthy for the body, it affects appearance. Alcohol eats up the body’s vitamins and nutrients, quickening the aging process. A drunkorexic has anemic, acne-prone skin, nails and hair that are brittle and thin, frequent dizziness, stomach bloating, and constipation. Drunkorexia might keep you from gaining weight, but in the end, a malnourished body means an unhealthy appearance.

How do I know if I am at risk?

  • You are highly restrictive in your food intake.
  • You have a perfectionist attitude about your appearance and weight.
  • You are under pressure to deal with new demands and responsibilities.
  • You frequently consume alcohol at parties to lower your stress and social inhibitions.
  • You would rather miss a meal and “save up” your calories so that you can “use them up” later by drinking at a party.
  • You are obsessed with rapid weight-loss.
  • You are already suffering from an eating disorder.

What can I do?

  1. Be aware of the damaging consequences of drunkorexia to your body and your life.
  2. Develop stress-reducing techniques such as meditation that you can practice daily.
  3. Embrace the healthy foods and habits that improve health and boost brainpower.
  4. Seek support if you are struggling with unhealthy eating and/or drinking habits.
  5. Get regular exercise, which reduces stress, lifts your mood, and tones the body much better than calorie-restriction or alcohol ever could.