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Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse in Clovis, CA

Eating disorders are complex conditions that affect a person’s relationship with food and their body. They are not just about food but often stem from a combination of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors. These disorders can have serious health consequences and impact a person’s emotional and physical well-being.

Approximately 9% of Americans, or nearly 28.8 million people, may experience an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Eating disorders are a serious health concern, leading to about 10,200 fatalities annually—this means one person loses their life to an eating disorder every 52 minutes. Furthermore, the financial impact of these disorders on the economy reaches an estimated $64.7 billion each year.

There are a multitude of different eating disorders that clients in addiction recovery often report. Eating disorders have the potential to cause obsessive thoughts about the amount of food a person consumes, as well as other symptoms like depression and anxiety. People coping with eating disorders might use drugs or alcohol to suppress hunger or alleviate feelings of depression and anxiety. Initially, this might seem helpful, but eventually, substance misuse can aggravate eating disorder symptoms and pose serious health risks.

At First Steps Recovery, we understand the intricacies of eating disorders and the importance of personalized care. Our approach is comprehensive, addressing not only the symptoms but also the underlying causes. We offer support and treatment to help people regain control and embark on a journey to recovery. Our dedicated team is committed to providing the tools and resources necessary for each person to achieve long-term health and well-being

The Effects Of Eating Disorder On The Mind

Eating disorders are serious health conditions that can profoundly affect a person’s mental and physical health. Here are the types of eating disorders and their impact on the brain:

  • Anorexia Nervosa: People who have anorexia nervosa typically view themselves as being overweight, even if they are actually underweight. They have obsessive thoughts about monitoring their weight and monitoring their caloric intake. Most people who have anorexia nervosa exhibit obsessive-compulsive symptoms.
  • Bulimia Nervosa: Bulimia nervosa is characterized by binge eating behaviors, followed by purging behaviors. People with bulimia nervosa tend to have negative self-images or low self-esteem and an overwhelming fear of gaining weight.
  • Binge Eating Disorder: Binge eating disorder is comparable to Bulimia Nervosa without the purging aspect. Those who binge eat feel unable to control themselves and may consume large amounts of food without even feeling hungry.
  • Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): ARFID stands apart from other eating disorders as it is not influenced by concerns about body shape or size. People with ARFID have a disinterest in eating or avoid certain foods, leading to nutritional deficiencies. This disorder can affect the brain’s development and cognitive function due to a lack of essential nutrients.
  • Pica: Pica involves cravings for non-food substances like dirt or chalk. This disorder can lead to dangerous health complications and may be associated with deficiencies that affect brain function, such as iron-deficiency anemia.
  • Rumination Disorder: This condition is characterized by the repeated regurgitation of food. The constant cycle of chewing, swallowing, and regurgitating can be distressing and may interfere with normal social interaction, potentially leading to isolation and depression.
  • Orthorexia: Although not officially recognized as a distinct condition, orthorexia involves an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. It can lead to anxiety and an inability to make decisions outside of strict dietary rules, impacting social interactions and mental well-being.

Eating disorders can alter brain structure and function. They can lead to changes in neurotransmitter activity, which affects mood and stress response. The brain may also suffer from nutritional deficiencies, leading to cognitive impairments and difficulty in decision-making. Recovery from an eating disorder involves not only restoring physical health but also addressing the psychological aspects to promote a healthy relationship with food and self-image.

Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of eating disorders is crucial for early intervention and support. These disorders manifest through a variety of emotional, behavioral, and physical signs that can significantly impact a person’s life.

Emotional and Behavioral Signs

  • Drastic Changes in Weight: Significant weight changes, either loss or gain, can be a sign of an eating disorder.
  • Obsessive Concerns About Food and Weight: An intense preoccupation with food, caloric intake, dieting practices, and one’s own body image.
  • Distorted Body Image: A skewed self-view, where people see themselves as overweight despite being underweight, is common.
  • Avoidance of Social Situations Involving Food: Opting out of meals or events with food due to anxiety about eating publicly.
  • Ritualistic Eating Behaviors: Engaging in strict eating rituals, like cutting food into small pieces or eating in a certain order.
  • Excessive Exercise: Over-exercising, even when injured or exhausted, may be a sign of an eating disorder.
  • Mood Swings and Emotional Distress: Mood disorders like depression or anxiety frequently occur alongside eating disorders, resulting in significant emotional turmoil.

Physical Signs

  • Physical Symptoms: Symptoms such as dizziness, episodes of fainting, persistent fatigue, hair thinning, and gastrointestinal problems may signal an eating disorder.
  • Noticeable Fluctuations in Weight: Significant fluctuations in weight, whether it’s gaining or losing, can often point to an eating disorder.
  • Gastrointestinal Complaints: Symptoms like stomach cramps and acid reflux are common.
  • Menstrual Irregularities: Women may experience changes or interruptions in their menstrual cycles.
  • Concentration Difficulties and Dizziness: Challenges in focusing and dizziness, especially when standing, can occur.
  • Dental Issues, Dry Skin, and Brittle Nails: These can result from the nutritional deficiencies often associated with eating disorders.

These symptoms can vary widely among people and do not always fit neatly into categories. It’s important to approach someone you suspect may be struggling with compassion and to encourage them to seek professional help. Early recognition and action can significantly improve the chances of recovery.

The Connection Between Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse

The link between eating disorders and substance abuse is complex and multifaceted, with both conditions often coexisting and influencing each other. People with eating disorders may turn to substances as a way to cope with the emotional distress and psychological turmoil associated with their disordered eating behaviors. Similarly, people struggling with substance abuse may develop unhealthy attitudes and behaviors toward food, leading to the development of an eating disorder.

Eating disorders and substance abuse share common risk factors, including genetic predispositions, environmental triggers, and psychological stressors. The connection between eating disorders and substance abuse goes beyond just shared risk factors; there are also underlying psychological and neurobiological mechanisms at play. Both conditions involve dysregulation of brain pathways related to reward, motivation, and impulse control, leading to compulsive behaviors and difficulties in regulating emotions.

Furthermore, societal pressures and cultural norms around body image and substance use can exacerbate the co-occurrence of these disorders. Media portrayals of unrealistic beauty standards and glamorization of substance use can contribute to feelings of inadequacy and drive individuals towards unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Up to 37% of people with eating disorders also abuse drugs and alcohol, a rate significantly higher than the 10% prevalence of substance use disorders (SUDs) in the general population. This overlap suggests that the compulsive behaviors driving eating disorders may similarly influence substance abuse patterns.

Research indicates that up to 50% of people with eating disorders use alcohol or illicit drugs, a rate five times higher than the general population. Conversely, up to 35% of people dependent on alcohol or other drugs also have eating disorders, a rate eleven times greater than the general population. These figures underscore the urgency of addressing both conditions simultaneously.

The coexistence of eating disorders and substance abuse can lead to a heightened risk of premature death and long-term health complications. However, with integrated treatment approaches that address both eating disorders and substance abuse, people can embark on a path to recovery. It’s crucial for those affected to seek help from professionals who understand the complexities of these intertwined conditions.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment at First Steps Recovery

therapy for eating disorder and substance abuse

At First Steps Recovery, we offer specialized treatment for dual diagnosis, addressing both eating disorders and substance abuse simultaneously. We understand the significance of comprehensive care in helping people achieve lasting recovery and lead fulfilling lives.

Proper treatment is essential for people struggling with eating disorders and addiction to attain long-term health and wellness. Throughout our treatment programs, clients learn invaluable coping skills, relapse prevention techniques, and effective craving control strategies to manage their addiction. Moreover, our dual-diagnosis approach ensures that clients receive targeted support for their eating disorders, empowering them to overcome obsessive thoughts about food and any other symptoms they may experience.

By addressing both eating disorders and addiction concurrently, our clients receive comprehensive care that targets the root causes of their struggles. With our compassionate team of professionals guiding them every step of the way, individuals can embark on a journey of healing and transformation.

At First Steps Recovery, we’re committed to providing the support and resources necessary for our clients to reclaim their lives and thrive. Take the first step towards lasting wellness and reclaim your life today. Contact us to learn more about our specialized treatment programs and start your journey toward healing.

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Variety of Co-Occurring Mental Health Treatments We Offer

We treat a variety of different substance abuse and mental health issues at our facilities. Whether you find yourself or a loved one addicted to substance abuse or struggling with mental health disorders, we’re fully equipped to provide you with the help you need.

ADHD, or ADD, is a common neurodevelopmental disorder with attention and impulse control difficulties that can lead to substance abuse. Treatment with therapy and medication is crucial.

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Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorder is a mental health condition characterized by excessive and persistent feelings of fear, worry, and apprehension that can significantly impact a person's daily life.

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Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings, including episodes of mania (elevated mood and energy) and depression (low mood and loss of interest).

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Depression is a mental health disorder characterized by persistent sadness, loss of interest, and other emotional and physical symptoms

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Eating Disorder

An eating disorder is a mental health condition characterized by abnormal eating habits. Getting help is important to address physical and psychological health risks, improve quality of life, and promote recovery.

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Personality Disorders

Personality disorder is a mental health condition characterized by unhealthy patterns of thinking, behaving, and relating to others. Getting help is crucial to improve relationships, coping skills, and overall well-being.

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PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)/Trauma disorder is a mental healtah condition resulting from experiencing or witnessing traumatic events. Getting help is important to process trauma, reduce symptoms, and improve overall quality of life.

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Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking. Getting help is vital to manage symptoms, improve functioning, and enhance overall quality of life.

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Experiential Therapies & Evidence-Based Modalities in Fresno County

You’ll find we aren’t like typical addiction recovery programs here at First Steps Recovery. We have a variety of different therapies and on-site services that set us apart.

Clinical Therapies

Our detoxification program features 24-hour monitoring and professional guidance from licensed detox technicians.
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Experiential Therapies

A highly individualized treatment experience designed for lasting sobriety using evidence-bsed and holistic treatment options.
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Holistic Therapies

Our IOP offers individuals the ability to receive the high-quality, personalized level care of our rehab, but the flexibility to continue their daily lives.
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Aftercare Services

Individuals in the alumni program are invited to stay connected for meetings, events, and resources that are intended specifically for First Steps graduates.
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First Choice for Drug & Alcohol Detox in Fresno County

Learn why people choose to start their recovery at First Steps Recovery in Clovis, Fresno County.


My experience with First Steps and their entire team has not only helped me to gain sobriety but maintain it now for knots 18 months. The 24 or so days I spent there was the best thing that happened. My kids have their mom, the parents have their daughter but most importantly I have myself back!!

Dayatra L.

Amazing Experience

Amazing people. Super supportive and always there when you need them. My counselor, Amanda, makes it fun but also takes you to uncomfortable places in the best way. I recommend First Steps to anyone struggling with addiction.

Melissa B.

Above and Beyond

I attended First Steps outpatient program and was very happy with the help I received. I felt the staff genuinely cared about the health and well being of the people there. They went above and beyond to help me meet my goals and keep them.

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Individual therapy can be beneficial for a wide range of mental health concerns including anxiety, depression, trauma-related disorders, relationship issues, and more. It provides individuals with a supportive environment to work through their challenges at their own pace and make meaningful progress toward their goals.

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