by Robyn Cruze, MA


So many individuals throughout the United States find recovery from an eating disorder or addiction — only to face another illness.

For various reasons, many of us have spent a lifetime numbing our pain with substances. In early recovery from addiction, when our feelings start to surface, we can find ourselves seeking out other behaviors that will continue to keep us numb. Food, and the obsession of, can seem like a potential solution to dealing with these incredibly hard and undesirable emotions that flood us in the early days of the recovery process.

As a recovery advocate, I’ve seen this heartbreaking scenario a thousand times.

Do you have an eating disorder?

If you believe you or your client may also be experiencing a co-occurring eating and substance use disorder, you are so not alone!

  • Do you make yourself Sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
  • Do you worry that you have lost Control over how much you eat?
  • Have you recently lost more than One stone (14 lb) in a 3-month period?
  • Do you believe yourself to be Fat when others say you are too thin?
  • Would you say that Food dominates your life?

These questions above are a good way to get a feel for your symptoms, but the best way to determine if you need professional help for an eating disorder is to talk with your doctor or a mental health professional.

You can learn more about the how to recognize eating disorder in the substance use population here.

Sobering Facts

50 percent of individuals with eating disorders also abuse substances.

Up to 35 percent of individuals who abuse or are dependent on alcohol/drugs also have an eating disorder, compared to up to 10 percent in the general population.

Approximately 57 percent of males with binge eating disorder (BED) will experience a substance use disorder (SUD).

Individuals who undergo bariatric surgery are at risk for developing substance use disorder.

Lifetime rates of substance use disorder in the various eating disorder subgroups are as follows:

  • Anorexia nervosa: 27.0%
  • Bulimia nervosa: 36.8%
  • Binge eating disorder: 35%

But here’s the good news: full recovery from both substance use and eating disorders is possible!


Author Bio

Robyn Cruze, MA, born and raised in Australia, first profession was as a successful film, TV and theater actor across Australia and the United Kingdom. With a master’s degree in Solo Performance from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, today, Robyn utilizes her performance skills, personal experience, and research to educate on how to build a healthy relationship with body and the food we put in it.

She is the co-author of Making Peace with Your Plate, and author of a children’s affirmation book Lovely Dreams. Robyn is the Founder of The Body Conversation, and the National Binge Eating and Substance Use Advocate for Eating Recovery Center (ERC). She is a popular keynote speaker, educator, and writer, covering topics of body image, eating disorder recovery, The Body Conversation and breaking stigma surrounding mental illness.