Eating Disorders and Alcohol Abuse
The relationship between eating disorders and alcoholism has become a widely researched topic only in the last fifteen years. Since 1985, there have been an increasing number of research and case studies substantiating a correlation between these two behavioral and addictive disorders. Alcoholism affects nearly 14 million United States citizens (http://silk.nih.gov/silk/niaaa1/publication/booklet.htm ). The four basic elements of this disease include a craving for, loss of control over, physical dependence on, and tolerance to alcohol (http://silk.nih.gov/silk/niaaa1/publication/booklet.htm). Unfortunately, there is no cure for alcoholism, although various forms of treatment have become available. Eating disorders also affect a vast number of people: approximately 1% of female adolescents have anorexia nervosa and 4% of college-aged women have bulimia nervosa (http://www.anred.com/stats.html ). Men experience eating disorders less than women and encompass only 5-10% of the populations of eating disorder patients (http://www.anred.com/stats.html ). There is no cure for eating disorders. However, varieties of medicinal and psychotherapy treatments have allowed for improvements in patients and critical debates. The following paper analyzes five research studies that examined the possible correlation between eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Each report provides a summary of the procedures, results, and discussions formulated by the researchers. Finally, a critique of the overall findings from each study will offer possible changes that might help concretize conclusions to the many unanswered questions concerning eating disorders and their tendency to result in alcohol abuse.
The first report includes data for a random sample of 27 females drawn from two alcoholic units (Lacey et al., 1986). The mean age of the subjects was 32 years and 7 months and they were equally divided among the upper two social classes. The goal of this research was to examine the past and present eating habits of female alcoholics to determine whether or not a correlation between the two disorders existed. Two methods of research were used to evaluate the subjects: an interview and a questionnaire. One of the authors interviewed each subject individually. The interview consisted of two parts: (1) a detailed assessment of past and present eating behaviors and (2) an evaluation of drinking patterns. The first part of the interview based eating disorders on a variety of patterns, including binge-eating behaviors that lasted for at least 6 months. The second part of the interview used a pre-determined interview created by Stockwell et al. to determine levels of alcohol dependence. The questionnaire consisted of the Eating Attitudes Test, which is "a standardized measure of anorectic and bulimic behavior" (Lacey et al., 1986: pp. 390).
The results of this study supported a correlation between past or present eating disorders and...