Drunkorexia: A disturbing trend among college campuses

Sarahy Lopez, News Editor

“Drunkorexia” is a pop culture term for a long running harmful trend on college campuses that is between an eating disorder and alcoholism. It is the act of starving the body before going to binge drink for the purpose of getting drunk faster or to avoid gaining alcohol-related weight.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, according to Dr. Casey Tallent from the National Collegiate Outreach Director for Eating Recovery Center. In something like Drunkorexia, the disorder is linked to alcohol dependency, which can be portrayed as having to rely on drinking to relieve stress. This also leads to eating disorders and behaviors like regularly skipping meals or refusing to eat.

“Individuals who are experiencing ‘Drunkorexia’ are restricting calories prior to binge drinking, so that can be a clue to eating disorder behaviors and substance abuse behaviors,” said Tallent. “Students who are restricting calories before binge drinking, need to recognize how dangerous that behavior is.”

Students suffering from Drunkorexia have increased risks of many symptoms like losing consciousness, anxiety, feelings of isolation, alcoholism and, in the worst cases, death.

Mayra Zamorano, a senior majoring in Biology, had no idea that Drunkorexia was a serious problem. She understands that sometimes students want to party or have fun, but it can lead to serious consequences when abused.

“Drink with moderation. You’re setting yourself for a rocky relationship with your own health and loved ones, and alcoholism is just the tip of the iceberg,” she warns incoming freshman and anyone who might be experiencing Drunkorexia.

Recent studies have shown that about 46 percent of male and female students have admitted participation in restricting calories before drinking heavily, an alarmingly high number which is a dangerous trend said, Tallent.

“We need fuel to get us through the day, to power our brains, to power our body. If we’re not having that, we’re going to have negative experiences because our body does all kinds of things when we are not giving it food to preserve energy,” said Tallent.

“Without food, your body is running extremely low on vital nourishment to help repair the body from your drinking habits,” agrees Zamorano, who is studying anatomy and physiology. “Have a healthy snack nearby. And water! So much water. Half a sandwich even.”

For students worried that they might have eating disorders, Student Health and Counseling Services is a good place to start.

Students can also take an online quiz on at eatingrecovery.com to get a free confidential assessment to find out if they are suffering from Drunkorexia or other eating disorders.

The Eating Recovery Center (ERC) is a national health care system dedicated to the treatment of eating disorders at any stage of the illness. They have multiple locations, including one in Chicago. ERC accepts most forms of medical insurance.

“What I tell all students is make sure in your schedule you have time for sleep, for food and for self-care,” said Tallent.