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How I Found Recovery from an Eating Disorder and Alcohol Abuse

By Robyn Cruze
When I finally committed to my treatment plan I found recovery without using alcohol to numb everything (alcohol makes for blurriness). I could fully focus on getting to know myself and what I really wanted in life. I began to deal with all those feelings that I was hiding from; feelings that kept me spinning in the painful cycle of mental illness.
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So many amazing people in this world find recovery from an eating disorder or addiction— only to face another illness.

Many of us have spent a lifetime numbing our pain with our eating disorder thoughts and behaviors. In early recovery, when our feelings start to surface, we find ourselves seeking out other behaviors that will continue to keep us numb. Substance use, including alcohol or drug use, can seem like a potential solution to dealing with these incredibly hard and undesirable emotions. 

As a recovery advocate, I’ve seen this heartbreaking scenario a thousand times. Most importantly, though, I saw it in myself.

Finding true empowerment

When I got really serious about my eating disorder recovery, I knew that I would have to give up my drinking. 

For starters, it wasn’t very compassionate to myself to find recovery from one illness — only to become imprisoned by another! Being willing to give up both my eating disorder and drinking was the first step for me to become whole. For me, giving up drinking has made all the difference in my eating disorder recovery, and in the quality of my life.

Do you have a substance use disorder?

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

  • Have you ever felt you should cut down on your substance use?
  • Have people annoyed you by criticizing your substance use?
  • Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your substance use?
  • Have you ever had a drink or drug first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?

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 drinking or drug use is to talk with your doctor or a mental health professional. 

You can learn more about the symptoms of substance use disorder here

Sobering facts about substance use 

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 surgeryare at risk for developing substance use disorder.

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


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

Finding truth and authenticity in recovery

Drinking and drug use can effectively numb our feelings. But at what cost? 

At some point in recovery, we must be willing to confront our feelings without numbing them. True strength and wholeness is found when we feel our emotions without any barriers. Yes, it can be painful and incredibly challenging, but we can take it one step at a time, showing up and facing all the parts of our illness that prevent us from living our life fully. By doing this, we can get to the life we were born to live.

The surprising things I learned when I found recovery

When I finally committed to my treatment plan — I found recovery— without using alcohol to numb everything (alcohol makes for blurriness), I could fully focus on getting to know myself, and what I really wanted in life. I began to deal with all those feelings that I was hiding from — feelings that kept me spinning in the painful cycle of mental illness.

Here’s how treatment saved my life.

Are you giving yourself the best chance at recovery? Is there anything standing in your way?

Robyn Cruze is National Binge Eating and Substance Use Advocate and online community manager for Eating Recovery Center.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. We want you to know that a fulfilling, rich recovery is possible. We encourage you to call us to begin the healing process. For a free clinical assessment by a Master Level Clinician, please contact (877) 711-1878.


 

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Robyn Cruze
Written by

Robyn Cruze

Internationally-recognized author and speaker, Robyn Cruze published Making Peace with Your Plate (Central Recovery Press) with Espra Andrus, LCSW, which will enter its second edition in February 2020. Her work has been featured internationally in media outlets including ABC, Sky News (Aust.), CBS, The Mighty, The Temper and Refinery 29. Robyn is the cofounder of a family mental health awareness initiative, Wide Wonder, that aims to make mental health and addiction recovery an everyday conversation. She also serves as a Director of Advocacy consultant at Eating Recovery Center.

A background in TV, film and theatre acting, and a master’s degree in performing arts, Robyn is a sought-after keynote speaker. She educates and brings to light such topics as the co-occurrence of eating and alcohol disorders, The Body Conversation—how to have a relationship with your body and the food you put in it, and all things mental wellness.

Follow Robyn Cruze on Instagram.

Eating Recovery Center and Pathlight Mood and Anxiety Center are accredited through the Joint Commission. This organization seeks to enhance the lives of the persons served in healthcare settings through a consultative accreditation process emphasizing quality, value and optimal outcomes of services.

Organizations that earn the Gold Seal of Approval™ have met or exceeded The Joint Commission’s rigorous performance standards to obtain this distinctive and internationally recognized accreditation. Learn more about this accreditation here.

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