Drunkorexia: A craze of alcohol consumption among our young

Alcohol use and abuse among our young people has been problematic for our society for a number of years, most dramatically since the “Drug Revolution” of the 1970s. Alcohol abuse among youth is still increasing in numbers in the United States, and the problems that arise from the abuse continues to be most detrimental to our society (I define young people as those under the age of 25).

On college/university campuses, alcohol abuse raises much concern, most especially for those engaged in binge drinking; and the new craze, Drunkorexia, which is also filtering down to our high school age youth.

Binge drinking, generally defined as drinking four or more ethanol drinks in rapid succession, is now most common; the well known “beer bong,” “chug-a-lugging,” is well known among most everyone now. But Drunkorexia takes binge drinking to a new level…a behavior pattern of repeatedly fasting or purging to compensate for the amount of calories consumed during binge drinking, or putting it another way, “drunkorexia is a combination of diet-related behaviors, such as food restriction, excessive exercise or binge eating and purging, with alcohol use.”

Two independent studies recently conducted at The University of Kansas, and The University of Houston, have concluded this behavior among major mental health concerns among college students; wherein their studies show that approximately 40 percent of American college students have reported to engaging in binge drinking and associated drunkorexia at least once in the last two weeks.

Lead researchers, Dr.s Dipali V. Rinker, associated professor at the University of Houston; and Kelsie T. Forbush of the University of Kansas; have concluded in their studies even greater concern: That Drunkorexia can also be linked to eating disorders and further substance abuse disorders; with the diagnosis of Inappropriate Compensatory Behavior to avoid Weight Gain from consuming alcohol (ICB-WGA).

The researchers found, in these extensive studies, that gender of those college students studies, was not much of a factor for those engaged in drunkorexia; 60 percent were females, and 40 percent were males. To me this is startling, as it has been presumed by the general mental health practitioners that the behaviors associated with excessive or restrictive eating and purging along with alcohol use was restricted to females.

The studies also reported that those engaged in the practice most often were athletes, those living in fraternity and sorority homes on campus, and lastly those living off campus. Their studies went on to report that, “college students are more likely to engage in these specific compensatory behaviors if they are athletes, are already heavy drinkers, are coping with negative emotions, are engaging in disordered eating practices already, and, most importantly, because they perceive it to be a highly normative behavior among colleges students.”

The contributing factors also involved living away from home for the first time and feeling intense stress at school.

The use and abuse of ethanol beverage is nothing new, and binge drinking has been around a long time also … throughout recorded history, but mostly among adults; e.g. the Romans had their “orgies” wherein drinking wine to intoxication while eating, and then purging (vomiting) in order to eat and drink more occurred. And while their are young people in our society who have consumed alcohol to intoxication, never before have they been so widely known to engage in such practices of drunkorexia.

The problems associated with our youth consuming alcohol is a societal problem, and the answers always lie within the education of our youth about alcohol and alcoholism. I spent much of my life traversing the State of Texas providing drug and alcohol abuse presentations to a myriad of agencies and organizations; from kindergarten classes to college classes, to educators and education administrators, to civic organizations, to professional counseling and psychological associations, etc. Many hundreds of presentations. Most noteworthy of all the presentations were those with young people.

From my presentations to hundreds, if not thousands, of young people I found them most inquisitive; they asked a lot of questions. From these real questions I finally wrote a book, entitled “Straight Talk: Answers to Questions Young People Ask About Alcohol.” This book, now in its 3rd edition, has been used as a teaching tool around the country, and is even internationally used. It has been used in school systems of Indiana and Florida, for example, as a tool for DWI education programs in many states, and for awareness education in other organizations.

Unfortunately, the use of the book has been very limited in the State of Texas and other organizations within our state; despite my publishers and myself promoting the book widespread over the years. Is it because the consumption of ethanol beverage is a normative behavior in all age groups within our state? Does alcohol education really matter among our educators and administrators within our state? And, most of all I ask, are the educational systems and organizations that state concern about ethanol consumption among our youth in the Valley communities really pro-active when it comes to the use and abuse of alcohol?

I contend that for many, it is really not seen as important; for many however it is.

Binge drinking and drunkorexia are major problems among our youth today. The answer to the problem has always been in awareness education by parents and other individuals of significance toward our youth. And, as I have always done, I offer complimentary copies of my book “MORE Straight Talk: Answers to Questions Young People Ask about Alcohol” to anyone who asks. Contact me at rjonessr29@att.net I will even pay for the postage…I still just want this book to be a part of everyone’s library. Until next time, Stay Healthy My Friends!