The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that 37 percent of alcohol misusers and 53 percent of drug misusers have a co-occurring mental illness like depression, anxiety or disordered eating. This week, February 25 through March 3, is National Eating Disorders Awareness week—when Vista Taos and facilities across the U.S. stand in solidarity with people in all stages of body acceptance and eating disorders recovery.
This theme of this year’s NEDAwareness Week, “Come as You Are,” reminds individuals suffering from eating disorders to SPEAK OUT, share their struggles and victories, and connect with others along the way.
“Eating disorders are widely misunderstood illnesses and support options are often inaccessible. As a result, too many people are left feeling helpless, hopeless and frightened.”
– NEDA website
Eating Disorder Symptoms & Warning Signs
If you suspect you or a loved one may have a destructive view of food, body weight or body image, explore the NEDA website, join the “Come as You Are” movement or contact the NEDA Helpline. Before you decide to take action and find treatment for anorexia, bulimia or other disordered eating patterns, be on the lookout for combinations of these symptoms:
- Attitudes indicating that weight loss or food control are primary concerns
- Frequent dieting or use of “fad” food practices
- Extreme concerns about weight or body image
- Frequent comments about “feeling fat”
- Frequent use of mirrors to examine body flaws
- Skipping meals or eating small portions
- Food rituals
- Compulsive exercising
- Withdrawal from social groups
- Cramps & other gastrointestinal complaints
- Difficulty concentrating
- Fainting, dizziness or syncope
- Sleep problems
- Development of fine “lanugo” body hair
- Moodiness or frequent mood swings
- Frequent cold feeling
- Numerous cavities or dental issues
- Drinking excessive water or low-calorie beverages
For a more comprehensive list of emotional, behavioral and physical signs of anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders, see the NEDA website.
Comorbidity in Disordered Eating
According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, up to one-half of people with eating disorders also abuse illicit drugs or alcohol. (A rate of five times higher than the general population.)  In addition, up to 35% of those who have misused or become dependent on drugs or alcohol also have an eating disorder. (A rate of 11 times higher than the general population.)
At Vista Taos, we remind clients and families that successful treatment of dual diagnoses like disordered eating requires a reputable drug and alcohol treatment specialist who can identify and address mental illnesses that co-occur with drug or alcohol misuse. Without an in-depth understanding of disordered eating as a comorbid condition, therapists and addiction specialists may fail to provide the holistic care that dual-diagnoses patients require—and it is less likely that full recovery can take place.
About the National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) Organization
From developing screening tools and social media campaigns to serving as a catalyst for disordered eating prevention, cure research and high-quality healthcare, NEDA’s efforts support men, women and families impacted by malordered eating. According to this reputable nonprofit organization, “Twenty million women and ten million men will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Eating disorders are serious, life-threatening illnesses that affect all kinds of people, regardless of gender, ethnicity, size, age or background.” NEDA also reports that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health concern.
Learn more about eating disorders, explore signs and symptoms or get help in an eating disorder crisis by browsing the NEDA website. You can also follow NEDA on Facebook and Tumblr for support, inspiration and education during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week and throughout the year.
Come as You Are to Vista Taos
NEDA’s Come as You Are theme echoes the Vista Taos invitation to individuals and families, every day. We know your stories are painful and complicated, and we invite you to discuss your situation confidentially with us anytime— for no charge. When you reach out by email or phone (575.586.3102), your life can take a turn for the better.
Vista Taos’ integrated treatment approach provides customized, compassionate care in the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Linking arms with you and providing the resources and tools you and your family need to begin the recovery journey, our nationally accredited treatment center takes a whole-person approach to your care.
Experience Taos and the beauty of the southernmost Rocky Mountains. Experience health and wholeness where chaos and pain once resided. Experience the Vista Taos Difference—and start your journey to recovery today.
 The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. Food for Thought: Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) Columbia University; New York: 2003.