“Drunkorexia” A Deadly Combination (Anorexia and Alcoholism)

Those who abuse alcohol sometimes use it in unconventional ways that can lead to different effects. This can happen with almost any kind of substance.  These unconventional methods often lead to serious problems from an already dangerous substance. You may be wondering,” is drunkorexia real?” Drunkorexia is one of the many unconventional ways in which people are abusing alcohol.  In short, drunkorexia is a disorder where alcohol gets consumed on an empty stomach.  This article will discuss what exactly drunkorexia is, its symptoms, what causes it, who is affected by it, and its dangers. 

If you or someone you care for suffers from drunkorexia or any alcohol addiction, please call 480-378-0660  and speak to a recovery specialist today. We are here to help you live a life that is free from alcohol. 


Continue reading below for more information about drunkorexia. Click a link to jump to that section.


Understanding Drunkorexia

Many people have not heard of drunkorexia before, as it is a relatively new disorder in today’s medical journals. Drunkorexia is a term that is regularly drinking alcohol on an empty stomach. This drinking method allows someone to get drunk faster since one of the primary ways a person absorbs alcohol is through their stomach. Food consumption is one factor that affects the rate at which alcohol will start to enter the bloodstream of a person. 

People who are drunkorexic will usually limit their calorie intake for the day or starve themselves throughout the day in preparation for drinking. However, it doesn’t stop drinking. Those who have this disorder abstain from eating or limit their calories regularly. This is one reason why this disorder got its name because its from the condition of anorexia. Furthermore, these two conditions share the same symptoms, but a person who is suffering from anorexia may not be partaking in alcohol consumption.

Symptoms and Signs

How can a person tell if they are suffering from drunkorexia or an alcohol use disorder?  Well, three aspects contribute to drunkorexia that separates it from a standard alcohol use disorder. They are alcohol consumption, food intake restriction, and excessive exercise. To determine if a person suffers from drunkorexia, they can compare these four symptoms to what they are experiencing.


  1. Calorie counting to ensure that there has been no weight gain 
  2. Skipping meals to save calories for alcoholic beverages.
  3. Over-exercising if they notice any weight gain from alcohol consumption.
  4. Drinking a quantity of alcohol unsuitable for their empty stomach, which causes them to vomit. 

If you relate to any of these symptoms, there is a chance that you may be suffering from drunkorexia. However, it is essential to consult a medical professional to get a proper diagnosis and treatment. 

What Causes Drunkorexia?

Drunkorexia is a specific disorder, and the causes of it are fairly concrete. Two major disorders can lead to drunkorexia, anorexia, and bulimia. Those with anorexia essentially starving themselves with restrictive calorie intake, and those with bulimia eat an excessive amount only to purge it from their system shortly after eating. 

Research has shown that there is a co-occurrence between eating disorders and substance abuse disorders. Studies have shown that the prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse is approximately 50% in individuals with an eating disorder, compared with a prevalence of approximately 9% in the general population. Similarly, over 35% of individuals with SUD report having an eating disorder compared with a 1–3% prevalence of eating disorders in the general population. Unfortunately, when two conditions co-occur, treating them can become increasingly difficult. This is because addiction can stem from an already existing condition or vice versa. However, it does not mean that treatment is impossible. In fact, those with co-occurring conditions get successful treatment every day. 

Additional Causes

There are psychological problems that can lead a person person to have drunkorexia disorder. For instance, a person suffering from this disorder is likely to suffer from depression or anxiety. 

Those that have an eating disorder typically have body acceptance issues. Alcohol allows them to get their minds off how they look and the traits they dislike. Having an addictive personality is also a trait that puts an individual at risk for drunkorexia. For example, an obsessive person about obtaining the perfect body may develop psychological and behavioral patterns. As a result, they will become vulnerable to becoming obsessive over other things, which in this case, is alcohol. It can be a little more challenging to treat drunkorexia compared to other disorders. However, knowing the underlying causes can help. 

Who Is Effected By Drunkorexia?

As specific as drunkorexia is as a condition, it is also specific in who it targets. The primary demographic affected by drunkorexia are young adults. In fact, drunkorexia is a term that has been used by many college students. This may not come as a surprise due to how common partying and drug use is during this particular age. In addition, eating disorders are to develop in people at a younger age. 

College can be a time of trying to discover yourself while also dealing with the stress of school, work, and fitting in. This amount of stress can lead to depression and anxiety. This can then result in an eating disorder or a substance abuse disorder, as mentioned before. Unfortunately, this sort of experimentation with substances can be encouraged by peers. This can normalize this behavior, hence why it has become a trend. This can also become even scarier when you realize that young adults may not understand or care about the health risks associated with this disorder during this age. As a result, they may continue to promote this way of drinking.  

Relevant Studies

There have been some studies that show the relationship between young people and drunkorexia. One study, in particular, found just how common drunkorexia is within adolescence. This study examined a sample of 4275 participants between the age of 18 and 26.  The variables looked at for each individual were their socio-economic characteristics, drinking habits, eating habits, and psychoactive substance use.  34.1% of the people associated with the research limited their calorie intake before drinking. 

Both men and women are susceptible to drunkorexia; however, there does seem to be a difference in their motives behind it. Another study looked at one thousand adolescents between the ages of 16-21 regarding drinking habits and analyzed their reasons for drinking. Both men and women in this study showed indicators of drunkorexia. Still, they found that women tend to do so mainly for enhancement motives (controlling weight), and men tend to do so primarily due to issues in their emotional regulation.  Though this is the target demographic for drunkorexia, that doesn’t suggest that someone older cannot also have this disorder.

The Danger of Drunkorexia

The effects of drunkorexia are severe and more harmful than standard alcohol use disorder. Someone who has an eating disorder alone is at an increased risk for morbidity and mortality. By adding alcohol into the equation, a person is creating additional risk.

Nutritional Deficiencies 

Let’s look at some of those effects more in-depth. Dipali Rinker, a research assistant professor of psychology at the University of Houston, states that “restricting caloric intake to those from alcohol could lead to vitamin depletion, as it may keep the individual from eating more nutrient-dense food.”  Vitamin depletion will cause a person to become malnourished, and drinking in a state of malnourishment causes all sorts of problems.  If the organs don’t have the proper nutrients, they will be unable to process alcohol properly. Over a long period, it can cause failure within the kidney, liver, and heart. If a person is malnourished, they will become more prone to blacking out and alcohol poisoning.  

Social Consequences 

A person also can develop social consequences concerning drunkorexia. These are quite similar to that of a person having any other addiction, which affects their professional and social lives and emotional and behavioral states. If an individual has this disorder while in university, it can affect them academically and miss class assignments. A person is more likely to experience assault, unprotected sex, and DUIs. This can cause them to become in trouble with the law or lead to financial instability. Their behavior may push people away from them, and they may lose friends or even family members. If their emotional and behavioral states start to be affected at an early age, it may be harder to fix later on in life. Though these effects are severe, everything is fixable with proper treatment.

Finding Help

Suffering from an eating disorder and an alcohol use disorder is not to be taken lightly. Unfortunately, drunkorexia is not just a growing trend in the United States, but it is also growing in other parts of the world. With so many people at risk, more people should be aware of this disorder. Some people may not be aware that drunkorexia is real or a problem. 

Like with any addiction, education and compassion are key when trying to treat this disorder. Since many of the users are young, there needs to be guidance on managing the stress associated with their self-image and worth. Positive feelings of self-worth are essential to living a happy and sober life. People suffering from this disorder may feel alone. However, the staff members at an addiction treatment facility will address both the eating disorder and the substance addiction that you may be suffering from.

If you or a loved one is suffering from drunkorexia or any alcohol addiction, help is available. Do not lose hope! Call 480-378-066 today so we can connect you with a treatment center. You can overcome it.

Written by: Irfan Jeddy

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