Cocaine Abuse and Eating Disorders

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Addiction is a disease that can lead to mental health symptoms and a variety of detrimental habits. Cocaine, for instance, is a substance that can suppress hunger. Because of this, clients often deal with a lack of nutrition and sometimes unintentionally develop eating disorders. When two disorders exist simultaneously, this is called co-occurring disorders. Finding a facility that is capable of treating clients struggling with cocaine abuse and eating disorders at the same time is crucial for optimal recovery and healing.

First Steps Recovery is a facility that offers care and treatment for clients coping with any combination of co-occurring disorders. Because addiction is such an influential disease in one’s life, the surfacing of mental health disorders is common. To properly heal and lead a life of sobriety, it is important to address all elements of one’s well-being. If only one disorder is treated, the likelihood of relapse occurring is higher as certain symptoms or disorders have not been properly addressed.

Cocaine Abuse

The drug cocaine is a stimulant that has various effects on a person’s mind and body. After one use, cocaine cravings can begin, and repeated use leads to the body becoming accustomed to the drug. Cocaine use leads to an increase in dopamine, which triggers a rewarding effect. These dopamine surges lead individuals to continually use the drug, as they associate using it with a positive experience. The drug can lead to energy, happiness, or alertness alongside paranoia, irritability, and sensitivity. Physically, cocaine use can cause nausea, high blood pressure, tremors, restlessness, and advanced heartbeat among others.

Malnourishment, specifically, is a long-term effect of cocaine use, as the drug decreases appetite. Suppressed hunger can lead to a number of unhealthy eating habits, which is why clients may develop eating disorders from cocaine abuse. In fact, one of the withdrawal symptoms from cocaine is increased appetite.

Why Do Cocaine Abuse and Eating Disorders Often Co-Exist?

In an analysis of drug use and eating disorders by the U.S. Department of Justice, it was found that up to 50% of those with an eating disorder abuse alcohol or illicit drugs. Some of the factors that may influence drug use include unhealthy weight-control behaviors, such as using or abusing caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs like cocaine.

When these lingering weight-control behaviors or thoughts exist, individuals often find ways to suppress their hunger. Cocaine use is one of these habits that one may pick up. Often clients with anorexia nervosa are likely to ingest substances for weight loss effects. Anorexia nervosa is exhibited by clients with lower and unhealthy body weight who intentionally eat less out of fear of gaining weight. These clients try to control their weight with excessive dieting and exercising.

On the flip side, individuals at a healthy weight who begin to use cocaine may experience suppressed hunger and develop an eating disorder unintentionally because of this.

Treatment at First Steps Recovery for Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders are very complex and must be treated with utmost care. First Steps Recovery recommends that clients who complete the detoxification program enter residential treatment care (RTC) as their primary treatment program. RTC is an on-campus program in which clients engage in therapies and treatments in a guided and secure environment. This allows clients to focus primarily on their healing journeys without being distracted by external factors. RTC has many benefits, including:

  • Gender-specific care
  • 24/7 nursing and an onsite physician
  • Psychological assessments and case management
  • Psychotherapy and counseling
  • Group therapy and counseling

During treatment, clients are exposed to both clinical and holistic care. This provides clients with a whole-person approach to recovery, which is especially important for those coping with co-occurring disorders. Rather than just scrape the surface of one’s cocaine abuse, whole-person care helps clients engage with their recovery journeys on a personal level and create a transformed life.

The Whole-Person Approach

Whole-person care is important for clients coping with co-occurring disorders. With this approach, all elements of one’s addiction and mental health are taken into consideration. Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being all intersect. Whole-person care brings all of these together for optimal healing

For clients coping with cocaine abuse and eating disorders simultaneously, physical therapy is a holistic care service that is available and recommended at First Steps Recovery. This therapy combines mental health and physical health in a comprehensive program.

When clients are underweight or malnourished due to substance abuse, the brain is often deprived of oxygen and this can lead to further mental health problems. Physical therapy acts not only as an educational therapy that helps clients fully grasp their disorders but also provides clients with proper dietary and exercise plans to improve physical wellness. Physical wellness and mental wellness influence each other, so it is important to improve both while in recovery.

Cocaine abuse often leads to malnourishment, unhealthy dietary habits, and eating disorders in some cases. When these issues arise, individuals are then coping with co-occurring disorders. These are challenging to recover from as there are many components to attend to as one strives for well-being. Here at First Steps Recovery, we understand these challenges. We take a whole-person approach to treatment that encourages physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being for our clients. Physical therapy is a holistic service we offer to encourage healthy eating and exercise habits while in recovery from cocaine abuse and eating disorders. To learn more about our holistic services for cocaine abuse and eating disorders or other co-occurring disorders, please call us at (844) 489-0836.

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