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Eating Disorder and Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities Near Me

Healthy eating habits can support a long and enriching life. But for some, eating healthy can turn to a preoccupation with food and weight that may make it harder to focus on other aspects of life.1 This is known as an eating disorder; a mental health disorder that affects people’s eating patterns, and the emotions and thoughts that surround those patterns.2 If left untreated, eating disorders can result in serious health complications and, in extreme cases, death.2

An eating disorder can occur alongside substance abuse. Research suggests that 50% of women with eating disorders have misused alcohol or drugs.3 Like many other co-occurring disorders, an evidence-based approach that treats both the eating disorder and substance abuse can be the best path to recovery. Understanding the warning signs of eating disorders, and how to find inpatient or residential eating disorder treatment facilities near you can help you find treatment and recovery.

What is an Eating Disorder?

In brief, eating disorders can cause one to constantly worry about what they eat, their body weight, and their body image.2 There is no single factor that causes an eating disorder to develop. Rather, eating disorders result from the complex interplay of various factors, including but not limited to culture, ethnicity, gender, and peer and family influences.1

Eating disorder can manifest in different forms. Some types of eating disorders will cause an individual to avoid eating, while other types of eating disorder will cause a person to consume food to excess. The common types of eating disorders are:1

  • Anorexia nervosa involves the restriction of energy intake relative to requirements, leading to a low body weight based on age, sex, and physical health. There are two types of anorexia nervosa:
    • Restrictive type anorexia nervosa. In this condition, there is no binge eating or purging, with weight loss occurring primarily through dieting or exercise.
    • Binge-eating/purging type anorexia nervosa. The person with this condition engages in episodes of binging or purging.
  • Bulimia nervosa involves episodes of binge eating in a specific period of time. The level of food eaten is greater than what most people would consume in a similar period with a loss of control over overeating. This may be accompanied by vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or other medications to help lose weight.
  • Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder involves a lack of interest in eating food, avoiding certain characteristics of food, and worry about possible dangers of eating. This leads to persistent failure to meet nutritional needs or caloric needs, with weight loss, nutritional deficiency, and impaired psychosocial functioning.
  • Binge eating disorder is defined as consuming large amounts of food in a period of time that is more than what most people would consume in a similar amount of time. During these episodes, the person may feel a lack of control over their eating.4

There are multiple treatment settings for the treatment of eating disorders and this depends on the severity of the condition. If the person is severely malnourished, then they may require hospitalization.5

What is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse is a pattern of using substances despite negative consequences. Untreated substance abuse runs the risk of spiraling into a substance use disorder (SUD), a compulsive disorder of drug-seeking behavior and use despite harmful effects.5 According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5), a person can be diagnosed with a substance use disorder if they meet at least 2 of the following criteria:5

  • Using larger amounts of a substance over longer periods.
  • Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use.
  • Spending more time engaging in activities needed to obtain the substance.
  • Strong cravings.
  • Failing to fulfill major roles or duties because of substance use.
  • Continued substance use despite multiple negative effects.
  • Giving up social, work-related, or recreational activities.
  • Putting yourself in dangerous situations to obtain the substance.
  • Persistent substance use despite having psychological or physical problems related to the substance use.
  • Tolerance to the substance and needing more of it to achieve the same results that you had before.

The severity of a SUD is determined by the number of criteria an individual meets. An individual who meets two of the criteria may be considered to have a mild SUD, whereas an individual who meets six or more criteria may be considered to have a severe SUD.5

Link Between Eating Disorder and Substance Abuse.

Research suggests that eating disorders and substance abuse can often co-occur, with estimates suggesting that anywhere between 23% and 37% of individuals with an eating disorder also abuse substances.3  Binge eating, purging, and laxative use related to an eating disorder are also strongly associated with substance use.3 Many with an eating disorder may seek to use substances like alcohol to decrease their appetite, or to trigger vomiting in an attempt to purge food from their bodies.3 Those who struggle with anxiety along with an eating disorder may use substances as a coping mechanism.3 Substance use in any of these conditions can quickly spiral into a substance use disorder or an addiction.

Effective Eating disorder and Substance Abuse Treatment Methods?

Eating disorders vary from person to person, and for this reason, treatment is usually individualized and may involve a variety of different therapies and treatment tracks. Effective treatment for eating disorders may include psychotherapy, medications, nutritional counseling, weight restoration monitoring, or some combination of these.1

Rehab Programs and Options for Dual Diagnosis Treatment.

Due to the many types of eating disorders, it’s important for patients to receive individualized treatment plans. Facilities that are able to offer treatment that addresses both eating disorders and substance use disorders simultaneously can be incredibly beneficial for those seeking treatment. This type of treatment is known as dual diagnosis treatment, and it can involve various types of programs, including cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, individual therapy, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and more.3 To determine if dual diagnosis treatment is right for you, it’s important to speak with a medical professional.

How to find the Best Eating Disorder Treatment Centers Near Me

Those struggling with both eating disorders and substance use disorders may want to seek dual diagnosis treatment facilities. Look for a treatment center that has a personalized approach to your condition. It’s important to determine which type of treatment you’ll need. For example, those at the beginning of their recovery journey may benefit from an intensive inpatient eating disorder treatment track, whereas those who’ve already completed residential eating disorder treatment may be better served by an outpatient program. Overall, it’s important to discuss your needs with your doctor before seeking eating disorder and substance abuse treatment near you.

Another important factor is to determine where you want to attend eating disorder and substance abuse treatment near you, or if you’d benefit more for attending treatment out-of-state. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages. Attending treatment that is close to home can let you stay connected with friends, family, and other support networks. However, it could also leave you closer to triggers that may worsen your eating or substance use disorders. Out-of-state treatment can help by giving you a new environment, free of distractions. However, attending treatment far from home can also be isolating. Once you’ve decided on whether or not you’ll seek treatment out-of-state, it’s time to contact a medical professional for a referral or to check out an online treatment directory.

Does Insurance Cover Eating Disorder and Substance Abuse Treatment?

The Affordable Care Act requires that health insurance plans include coverage for services to treat mental health and substance abuse.6 This includes treatment for eating disorders, though your coverage may vary depending on your health insurance plan, the severity of your condition, the length of treatment, and the location of your treatment facility. To determine the extent of your coverage, contact your health insurance provider or check your coverage online.


  1. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Eating Disorders.
  2. National Institute of Mental Health. (2016, February). Eating Disorders.
  3. Killeen, T., Brewerton, T.D., Campbell, A., Cohen, L.R., Hien, D.A. (2015) Exploring the relationship between eating disorder symptoms and substance use severity in women with comorbid PTSD and substance use disorders. American journal of drug and alcohol abuse, 41(6), 547-552.
  4. Yager, J., Roy-Byrne, P. P, & Solomon, D. Eating disorders: overview of epidemiology, clinical features, and diagnosis. (2020, October 8)
  5. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Substance-related and addictive disorders in Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: Author.
  6. S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2019, February 25). Does the Affordable Care Act cover individuals with mental health problems?

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