When Anorexia or Bulimia Leads to Addiction

Given that anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeating, and other related food disorders are rightfully classified as addictions, it is not surprising that a food disorder can lead to alcohol and/or drug abuse.

At the core of any addiction is the inability to cope with life as it is. Thus addicts seek escapes and fixes in the forms of alcohol, drugs, food, sex, or any other number of ‘idols’. When life gets difficult, uncontrollable, stressful, painful, or boring, he seeks some ‘medication’ to numb the internal conflict. For young people who lack access to alcohol or drugs, food-over or under-consumption-often becomes the substance of choice.

A person who struggles with an eating disorder is already manifesting unmistakable signs of addiction and dependence, as well as an inclination towards self-destruction. Though disordered eating patterns such as anorexia or bulimia may promise to satisfy the victim for a short time, the comfort and pleasure that comes from them has an expiration date. At that time, the addict will seek a stronger fix. This is where alcohol and/or drugs may enter the equation.

Not Everything is As it Appears All the Time

But this is not how it was meant to be. God has given us Himself. He has designed us to desire him and the true comfort that he provides. But the addict is unsatisfied with God and the peace He promises. The addict, much like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, desires autonomy-she wants her own pleasures. She wants to say when, how, and how much. This desire, this drive, left unchecked, leads only to destruction.

omans 13:14 reminds, “…put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” In the beginning, the abuse of a substance or unhealthy behavior may not seem like such big deal. But each occurrence of sin, idolatry, or addiction only gives Satan a stronger foothold in your life. One wrong turn easily leads to another.

But there is a solution. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” This does not mean you must try to tackle multiple addictions on your own. Submission to God can take many forms. God has put people on earth to help those who are struggling. Submission can mean seeking help from a pastor or Christian counselor, joining a twelve-step program or support group, or checking oneself into rehab. There are numerous means in place to help you resist the devil, no matter what your addiction may be. With even the smallest shred of faith in the power of Christ, any demon will be forced to flee from you.

Bringing it Full Circle

Remember, an alcoholic or drug addict who has a history of eating disorders is now fighting multiple-addictions. That means that each will likely require a separate treatment plan. Some addictions will be easier to lay down than others. One alcoholic easily terminated his alcohol consumption but continued to struggle for many years with his propensity to overeat. As you begin to get clean, your stronger addictions will make themselves known. This may cause discouragement or feelings of utter futility. But remember, God is stronger than your strongest addiction. All you need is a desire to be clean, a readiness to be honest, and a willingness to seek God and the avenues of help he provides for you. He loves you. He wants only the best for you-freedom in Him.

The Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 8:37-39 give hope to the addict: “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”