Eating Disorder and Addiction Treatment

Crossroads has established itself as a leader in the treatment of addiction and behavioral health since opening its doors in 1974. Throughout this time, there has been an increasing number of women in Maine not only struggling with substance use disorders, but also eating disorders. According to the Academy for Eating Disorders, 50% of people with eating disorders also have a substance use disorder.

Both addiction and eating disorders are complex conditions; there is not a single cause or solution. This can make it challenging for women and their families to find effective ways of managing these issues and begin a healthy path to recovery. Engaging in a fully integrated treatment program that addresses the intricacies of how these disorders impact one another and allows women to explore the challenges they face and find what works best for their needs is essential.

Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Today’s society has a preoccupation with appearance and weight, which can make identifying eating disorders more difficult. It can be easy to dismiss symptoms as a woman just trying to look or feel healthier or keep up with the latest fads. But eating disorders run much deeper. Early detection can support women in getting the help they need for eating disorder recovery and learning to love their bodies. Depending on the type of eating disorder, symptoms can vary:

  • Excessive dieting, excessive overeating, or a combination of overeating and then purging.
  • Extremely focused on diet, weight, exercise, or appearance.
  • Refuses to eat certain foods or food groups.
  • Avoidance of specific food textures or colors; increasingly picky about eating.
  • Frequently tries new diets.
  • Avoids eating around others or only takes very small portions.
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom after eating.
  • Fear of choking or vomiting when eating.
  • Poor dental health from purging.
  • Dizziness upon standing.
  • Constantly feels cold.
  • Noticeable changes in weight; unable to maintain a healthy weight for body type.

These are just a few of the symptoms associated with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, otherwise specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED), and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID).

Eating Disorders and Co-Occurring Addictions

It is not unusual for women with eating disorders to also struggle with other conditions such anxiety, depression, or substance use disorders. They may use drugs or alcohol as way to try to control their weight, feel less self-conscious about their appearance, or cope with other challenges they’re facing. Emotional pressure from peers or society to look a certain way may play a role too.

This can turn into a destructive cycle and take a serious toll on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. However, there is help available to empower women to be who they always wanted and dreamed they could be while building healthier relationships and routines in recovery. Women learn to appreciate themselves and their bodies, develop a positive relationship with food, and overcome reliance on drugs or alcohol through an individualized inpatient eating disorder treatment program.

Treating Co-Occurring Eating Disorders and Addiction at Crossroads

Crossroads employs a fully integrated model of care that addresses both eating disorders and addiction together throughout every step of treatment. The treatment team is a combination of eating disorder and addiction specialists who collaborate to develop an effective plan for each woman that addresses her unique needs. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach because no two women or situations are the same.

Both addiction and eating disorders are chronic diseases that can result in high relapse rates without proper treatment. This means creating a space where women can engage in therapy and programs that enhance their understanding of how these two conditions affect one another and their recovery. It means treating women as a whole and not just focusing on symptoms, but addressing underlying issues and supporting physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual healing.


Click here to learn more about Crossroads’ Eating Disorders residential treatment program, or call us.