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The Comorbidity of Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse in Adolescents and Young Adults

Trilling, Eleanor

Eating disorders and substance abuse are both predominant issues that the United States faces today especially within the adolescent populations. Together, they can have serious consequences. And unfortunately many individuals suffering from an eating disorder or substance abuse problem develop its counterpart at some point in their lifetime. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University found in their three year study (2003) that “individuals with eating disorders are up to five times likelier to abuse alcohol or illicit drugs and those to abuse alcohol or illicit drugs and those who abuse alcohol or illicit drugs are up to 11 times likelier to have eating disorders”. This paper explores the comorbidity of eating disorders and substance abuse among the adolescent population in America. It will first look very briefly at each disorder separately, and then review the literature and studies that look at the overlap between the two. By comparing common personal, social and societal risks that are shared by those affected by eating disorders and substance abuse, this paper will attempt to explain the co-occurrence between the two disorders and demonstrate the causal linkages. Finally, I will bring my own thoughts, reactions, critiques and areas where I see need for further exploration.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Psychology (Barnard College)
Published Here
June 17, 2013