When a teen misuses anything such as food, alcohol, or drugs to cover up emotions or produce a certain positive feeling, it can be a challenge when that substance is removed. The mind and body of an adolescent are still developing, and impulse drives are often more difficult to control. 

Where there has been plenty of study about the effects of drug and alcohol abuse on adolescents, not as much as been done on eating disorders early in life. One recent animal study seems to show that adolescent binge eating could produce greater vulnerability to alcoholism. 

Study Reveals Possible Link Between Teen Binge Eating and Alcoholism

An animal study by researchers at Oregon Health and Science University reviewed the behavior of 116 male mice. The mice were trained to have a binge eating disorder (BED) and then forced to abstain from that behavior for a period of two weeks. The mice also had access to alcohol as part of their regular diet. 

The results were recently published in PLoS. Once deprived of the binge eating activity, the mice began consuming six percent more alcohol than they did before. This behavior suggests that the animals were switching from one addictive behavior to another. 

The researchers believe that these results could be due to the changes taking place in a developing adolescent's brain. When a person binge eats, it can increase his or her basal corticosterone levels as well as change the body's sensitivity to feel-good neurotransmitters such as dopamine. 

Teenagers and Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder among teens is a serious condition that can have a number of causes. The disorder is characterized by consuming large quantities of food within a two-hour period, whether the person is hungry or not. Eating disorders affect both females and males and have roots that can be both emotional and physical. 

Some eating disorders are preceded by traumatic events. PTSD is a disorder that is closely linked to BED, where roughly 25 percent of teens who binge eat also have PTSD. The condition can also be caused by physical and genetic issues. Teens undergo sometimes drastic hormonal changes that can awaken a BED. Studies show that a teen with a family member who has a BED are twice as likely to have the disorder as well. 

Group of people holding their glasses together in a toast.

Binge eating and alcoholism are often co-occurring disorders.

Why Binge Eating and Alcoholism Often Co-Occur

Many studies now conclude that BED and alcoholism are co-occurring disorders. One study concluded that pre-adolescent dieting was a predictor of future alcohol use. Another study suggests that both alcohol addiction and an eating disorder are related to atypical endogenous opioid activity, which is a proven determinant of both alcohol and food consumption. 

Because many people who suffer from these disorders also have other underlying conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression, it is crucial that all of these disorders are treated simultaneously. At The Recovery Village, you will receive the therapeutic, medical, and psychiatric care you need to treat your BED, alcohol addiction, and other underlying conditions. 

Contact us now to speak with one of our addiction specialists about our comprehensive substance abuse rehab that includes co-occurring disorder treatment.

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Teen Binge Eating and Alcoholism: Is There a Connection?
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