Living in a city with Yale University as a backdrop has both its benefits and its pitfalls, but perhaps the most interesting perspective it gives is being able to see the world through the eyes of its students. This viewpoint can often be a cause for concern as the students do not always make the best decisions when faced with peer pressure, stress, and new-found independence.
As in every college environment, students are often confronted with easier access to alcohol, which many students use as an outlet to ‘blow off steam’ and party after a tiring academic week. But if the dangers of binge-drinking were not enough, there is an even scarier combination of binge-eating and food-restriction that increases the dangers to students.
The aptly termed ‘drunkorexia’ paradigm consists of excessive food restriction during the day, acting as a compensatory mechanism to prevent weight gain from the calorie-dense alcoholic beverages students will consume at night. This practice is highly dangerous for several reasons:
1) Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach decreases alcohol tolerance, which is a prime environment for alcohol poisoning.
2) ‘Drunkorexia’ has been observed most commonly in females, who already lack an enzyme that is present in males to help break down alcohol. Once again, this means that alcohol poisoning co.
3) Because alcohol has very few nutrients besides being loaded with carbohydrates, individuals who restrict food intake will be severely malnourished, ushering in numerous other health problems such as anemia, bone loss, and vitamin deficiencies.
With these dangers facing students who participate in these behaviors, it is crucial to be able to identify who might be suffering. Remember, however, that although drunkorexia is most prevalent in the college years, the behaviors could last after college, or the onset could happen later in life. Each case will be different, but it is important to know what to look for.
Doorways – a psychiatric counseling service for adolescents and young adults – offers a few pointers on warning signs:
- Frequently skipping meals
- Spending a lot of money, but having nothing to show for it
- Poor grades
- Poor class attendance
- Rapid weight loss
If you know of a college student, relative, or friend who exhibits these type of behaviors, let them know that they can get help and that you are there to support their recovery. Most people will be very resistant and deny any problems, but whatever the cost, it still pays to speak up. After all, it could be a life you are saving, and that is always worth it.