Eating Disorder

You Can Never Be Too Thin--or Can You?

“You can never be too thin or too rich.” This quote has been ascribed to twice-divorced Wallis Simpson, the American woman for whom Edward VIII abdicated England’s throne. Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, was reportedly obsessed with wealth--and being thin.

Apparently, the duchess isn’t the only one to ascribe to this point of view. Thin models and celebrities stare at us from magazine covers. Celebutantes, almost always thin, post their filtered, carefully posed selfies on Instagram. Women of every age try diet after diet in an attempt to look like the airbrushed images that bombard them every day. According to BusinessWire, the weight loss and diet control market in the United States reached $72 billion in 2019, the highest it had ever been.

That last point may be proof that what’s good for Wall Street isn’t always good for Main Street. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), twenty million women and ten million men in the United States suffer from an eating disorder. Eating disorders have the “second-highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders, surpassed only by opioid addiction.” NEDA works to educate the public about eating disorders, build communities to support people who are recovering from these disorders, fund research, and provide people with resources. In an effort to educate the public, NEDA sponsors National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which will be February 22 through 28 in 2021.

What Are Eating Disorders?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, eating disorders are “serious medical illnesses marked by severe disturbances to a person’s eating behaviors….These disorders can affect a person’s physical and mental health; in some cases, they can be life-threatening.”

Three common types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.

People with anorexia avoid food or severely limit the amount and types of food they eat. They see themselves as overweight even when they are severely underweight. Some people with anorexia, in addition to restricting food, will force themselves to vomit or misuse laxatives and diuretics in an effort to further limit calories. Signs that someone may have anorexia include restricted eating, excessive exercise, extreme thinness, fear of gaining weight, and a distorted body image. As the illness progresses the person may develop medical issues, including:

  • Anemia
  • Muscle wasting and weakness
  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Low body temperature
  • Lethargy or fatigue
  • Heart damage
  • Brain damage
  • Multi-organ failure

Anorexia can be fatal and people who die from anorexia exhibit medical conditions associated with starvation.

People with bulimia eat unusually large amounts of food and feel as if they have no control over their eating. They compensate for binge eating by forcing themselves to vomit, misusing laxatives or diuretics, fasting, or excessive exercise. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), people with bulimia can be a normal weight or even be overweight. Medical issues caused by bulimia include a chronically inflamed and sore throat; swollen salivary glands; worn tooth enamel and tooth decay; acid reflux; intestinal issues from laxative abuse; dehydration; and electrolyte imbalance which can lead to a stroke or heart attack.

Sufferers of binge-eating disorder have repeated episodes of binge eating, usually defined as “eating an amount of food that exceeds what most people would eat within a two-hour time period. People with this disorder will eat even when they are not hungry and eat until they are uncomfortable. They tend to eat very rapidly during these binge episodes and they frequently eat alone or in secret because of feelings of shame or embarrassment. People with binge-eating disorder are frequently overweight or obese and diet without success. Heart problems are the most common health problem for this group.

Co-Occurring Mental Health and Substance Abuse Issues

While the causes of eating disorders are not known, experts speculate that eating disorders are caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and societal forces. What is known, however, is that many people with eating disorders also suffer from depression and anxiety and may have issues with substance abuse. 

A study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that 50% of people with eating disorders abuse drugs or alcohol, particularly those who engaged in some sort of purging behavior. According to an advisory released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), people with eating disorders have high rates of substance abuse as well. As the eating disorder becomes more severe, the likelihood that more than one substance is abused increases as well. Studies reported in the advisory found that people with binge-eating disorder tended to abuse alcohol, while those who attempted to increase their weight loss by purging (including bulimics and anorexics who purge) abused stimulants and sleeping pills.

The same advisory noted that co-occurring mental health disorders are common among people with eating disorders, particularly anxiety disorders, mood disorders (including major depressive, bipolar, and seasonal affective disorders) and impulse control disorders.

Help--and Hope--Is Available

Fortunately, help is available for people suffering from eating disorders. As serious as these disorders are, they are treatable, and people do recover.

Treatment for an eating disorder includes nutrition education, psychotherapy (talk therapy), and medication. Of the available psychotherapies, family-based therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy have been found to be effective. Alternative treatment modalities are also helpful in treating eating disorders. These include yoga, meditation, massage, fitness therapy, and acupuncture. 

You can recover from an eating disorder and receive treatment for co-occurring disorders that you may have. Treatment can literally save your life.

Experts estimate that nearly thirty million Americans suffer from an eating disorder, which has one of the highest mortality rates of all mental health issues. Approximately half of those who have an eating disorder also abuse drugs or alcohol and co-occurring mental health issues are also prevalent in this population. Eating disorders are serious health issues that can result in death if not treated. Help for eating disorders is available at Enlightened Solutions. We are a drug and alcohol treatment center on New Jersey’s southern shore and we are licensed to treat co-occurring disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder. Our treatment plans are rooted in the 12-Step philosophy. We focus on healing the whole person, not just treating the addiction. In addition to traditional talk therapy and support groups, we offer a range of holistic treatment modalities including yoga and meditation, art and music therapy, and family constellation therapy. If you have been struggling with an eating disorder or other addiction, please call us at (833) 801-5483. We can help.


The H.O.W. Of Recovery: Honest, Open Chakras, Willingness

We are repeatedly told that recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, as well as most co-occurring mental health disorders has to be holistic. Holistic healing, holistic wellness, and a holistic approach all mean the same thing. The word holistic means comprehending that everything is made of many parts and all of those parts are intimately interconnected. Addiction and alcoholism are not isolated to the mind or the body or even the spirit. When someone is overcome by addiction and alcoholism they have to recover in mind, body, and spirit. Trying to define mental illness by just one part of the equation does an injustice to the complexity of mental health disorders and often does an injustice to someone getting the treatment they need. A key to understanding the holistic approach is understanding that the only way to explain mental illness is by referring to the whole person- mind, body, and spirit.

Spiritual wellness, spirituality, and spiritual healing are an important part of the recovery process. Most treatment centers take the holistic approach and include some therapeutic components in their programs which reflect spiritual wellness. Massage, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, reiki, are common examples. One area many treatment centers don’t focus on is healing the chakras and opening them up. Opening the chakras allows the energy in the body to effortlessly flow from head to toe. Chakras which are closed and have been closed for many years stop the flow of energy which can cause emotional as well as physical health problems.

Chakras are seven energy centers in the body starting from our sacral region in our low back and center all the way to the top of our head. We work with our chakras through yoga, meditation, and reiki to release the energy. Breathing exercises focused on opening the chakras can help release the blockages there. Most often, our difficulties in treatment are reflected in which chakras are closed. There are correlations between what each chakra represents and regulates to what we go through on a daily basis. Keeping the chakras open helps us to be more open to live, recovery, and the freedom recovery promises.

At Enlightened Solutions we provide an integrative program of holistic healing, clinical therapy, and 12 step philosophy for total transformation. Our partial care programs are designed for dual diagnosis patients needing healing for substance use and mental health disorders. Recovery starts with you. Start your recovery with us. Call us today for more information at 833-801-5483.


partial care program

Staying On Medication and 3 Other Helpful Habits For Bipolar And Addiction

Psychiatrists, physicians, and treatment professionals often quip that bipolar disorder is one of the most curious mental health disorders to treat because of the way that people relate to their medication. Bipolar disorder is well known for creating delusion within its two emotional states: depression and mania. Mania is defined by highs which make depression seem even lower. Part of the depression is caused by the sudden loss of euphoria which can be experienced during mania. Mood stabilizers and other medications which treat bipolar disorder help someone feel more stable and feel better in their lives. Once they feel better and like the way they feel, people with bipolar seem to forget they’re bipolar and in need of medication. They stop taking it, stop attending meetings with their psychiatrists, and slowly spiral back out of control. Problematically, they will repeat this cycle over and over again.

Get Consistent Sleep

Having shifting moods which cannot be controlled can mess with your daily routine. Part of the challenge of living with bipolar disorder is creating consistency from one end of mania to the other end of depression. Mania causes people to lose sleep while depression can cause an excess amount of sleep. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule each night can create stability and not cause other major disruptions which result due to abnormal sleep.

Stay Sober

Bipolar disorder and addiction, as well as alcoholism are frequently co-occurring and present a constant problem. In times of a manic episode, someone is inclined to feel invincible and energetic, inspiring them to party and use substances excessively. During depressive episodes, someone with bipolar will turn to depressant substances to cope with their feelings or stimulant substances to try and make themselves feel like they did during mania.

Ask For Help

Learning to manage bipolar disorder during recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is challenging. Nobody expects you to do it perfectly! If you are struggling with manic-depressive episodes which are causing you to have cravings, it is okay to reach out for help. Don’t feel ashamed that you have bipolar and that you struggle with addiction. Courageously reach out for help and get the assistance you need to feel better.

If you are struggling with bipolar disorder and addiction, help is available. Enlightened Solutions has a variety of programs which can work for you to heal mind, body, and spirit. You will have balance again. For more information, call 833-801-5483


Pornography Addiction

Sexual compulsion is not regarded as a mental illness by many. Shamed and stigmatized by mass culture, sexual addictions are swept under the rug and made a joke of. For someone suffering from an addiction to sex, sexual activity, or pornography, their illness is no laughing matter. Money, relationships, careers, and even physical health, are compromised by a compulsive need for sex.

Pornography addiction

is categorized as a process addiction. Process addictions do not necessarily include an end result, as opposed to getting high or drunk on drugs and alcohol. Instead, they involve the compulsivity and impulsivity of an entire process, like watching pornography. Process addictions can cause equal damage to one’s life as drug and alcohol abuse can. Most affected is the individual themselves and their mental health.

Obsessive and impulsive behavior surrounding pornography causes a disruption in the mental health of the individual as well as their family. Recently, celebrity Teri Crews disclosed his addiction to pornography. In multiple interviews, he explained that hours upon hours of his daily life was being lost to compulsively watching pornographic videos, viewing pictures, and more.

Pornography addiction can include chat rooms, forums, “sexting”, and webcam viewing. Because of the sexual nature of pornography addiction it is often confused with sex addiction. As a result, many assumptions are made about the details. Pornography addiction does not necessarily include any actual sexual acts. For example, someone addicted to pornography is not necessarily addicted to masturbation, which commonly accompanies pornography watching.

Where it is involved, however, the pleasure affiliated with viewing pornography gets hardwired. When it comes to real life affection, intimacy, and sexual relation, someone addicted to pornography feels that it falls short. The brain has programmed itself to be turned on by the extremes and detached reality of pornography.

Human relationships suffer. Feeling isolated, ashamed, and alone, someone might go deeper into their pornography addiction looking for solace. Online subscriptions and memberships can cost a lot of money, bringing on financial strain.

Recovering from addiction to pornography is possible with treatment and therapy. Discovering the underlying causes for the compulsion to watch pornography usually reveals unresolved issues. Assessing those issues and working through them therapeutically, along with creating a program of recovery, helps to relieve the obsession to engage in pornography.

Enlightened Solutions treats dual-diagnosis patients of substance abuse and mental disorders. If you or a loved one are suffering from mental illness and are seeking treatment call us today 833-801-5483.


intensive outpatient program

Mental Health is a Problem for Children in School

Addiction is both a disease of it’s own and a symptom of others. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous aptly states that “our liquor was but a symptom.” Increasingly, addiction, alcoholism, or general substance use disorder is being dually diagnosed. Dual-diagnosis refers to the two prong diagnosis of substance abuse and other mental health disorder. Depression, anxiety, and ADHD are three of the most common dual-diagnosis issues found in conjunction with substance use. Without the early intervention and treatment of mental health disorders, substance abuse can develop as a coping mechanism.

Mental Health is a Problem for Children in School

NPR reports that in the United States, one out of every five school children shows signs of mental illness (in a given school year). Problematically, upwards of 80% of children who demonstrate symptoms of mental illness and may have it will not be treated for it. Untreated mental illness in early stages of development tends to worsen through the hormonal changes of puberty. Entering teenagehood when adolescents are naturally beginning to experiment with drugs and alcohol, a young adult with preexisting mental illness will be prone to addiction.

Addiction is not the only problem that can be created by untreated mental illness in school age children. Unless there is an active parent supporting their specific needs in learning, a child will suffer academically. As a result, they will likely receive criticism, ridicule, and punishment from their learning institutions. Wishing to avoid the humiliation and frustration, they might start skipping classes, underperforming academically, and turning to drugs for escape.

A similar occurrence happens in much of the treatment industry. Though dual-diagnosis is becoming more common, many treatment centers are not equipped to work with such clients. Enlightened Solutions is a certified and licensed dual-diagnosis treatment facility. In uncertified facilities, they might view the symptomology of mental illness as a lack of willingness, lack of motivation, or problematic behavior. Just like acting up in school, patients in treatment will begin to rebel. Sadly, their frustrations will lead to discharge and potential relapse.

Recognizing and treating co-occurring mental illness disorders in addiction patients is critical at any age or stage of development.

If you are concerned you or a loved one may be suffering from a mental disorder that is causing complications such as substance abuse, call Enlightened Solutions today 833-801-5483.