CHEWING WELL –
Nov. 9, 2023 – But, at 31, when even a year ago these thoughts would have gripped me – now, I can mostly shake them off. And what I believe has changed my attitude to my body is the fact that I’m over 600 days sober.
I started drinking heavily when I was about eighteen. At the time, this was fairly normal – everyone drank. Everyone blacked out. Everyone vomited. We were young, we were silly, we were inexperienced. But then friends around me grew up and grew out of it, and I couldn’t understand why I didn’t. Why every time I drank – even when I didn’t want to – I’d end up going overboard. No matter how hard I tried over the years, I couldn’t control my intake. Now, if you look into the research, multiple studies have identified eating disorders and substance abuse co-morbidities. A 2013 study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, for example, stated that “rates of alcohol dependence are elevated in women with eating disorders who engage in binge eating or compensatory behaviours” (compensatory behaviours refers to things like restriction, excessive exercise etc).
It’s unsurprising when you consider that some of the underlying shared traits of people with eating disorders and what often drives people to drink in excessive amounts. An Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry study reveals that 65% of women presenting with an eating disorder also met the criteria for at least one anxiety disorder. Stress and anxiety were for me personally and for many others, a factor in my drinking — not just social anxiety, but a general thrum of anxiety keeping my body tense 24/7 that a glass of wine (or six) was brilliant at numbing.