Drunkorexia: The disturbing new trend

A growing number of people are in danger of becoming drunkorexic.

Klara Nowacki

Do you ever try to ‘save’ calories on food to splurge on drink? Do you ever skip meals to beat the bloat for a night out? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, then the chances are you are a drunkorexic.

Simply put, a drunkorexic is someone who saves calories on food so that they can binge drink instead. This new trend, originating from campuses in America, is becoming increasingly popular -particularly in student environments across the UK.

Drunkorexia is most likely to affect women who are young, vulnerable and highly impressionable among their friends. There is a massive pressure on females to look thin and for many it can be overwhelming.

The perils of binge drinking

The disadvantages of this trend are endless and any young women dabbling in this habit are leaving themselves open to massive health risks.

Diane Thomson, a public affairs officer for Alcohol Focus Scotland warns: “When drinking on an empty stomach the alcohol is absorbed straight into the bloodstream and results in a person becoming very drunk, very quickly. This increases the risk of all sorts of things from alcohol poisoning, having an accident – for example falling into the road and being hit by a car – or having sex which you later regret or can barely remember.”

Drinking to excess is a common feature among many young people in society.

Drunkorexia mainly affects young weight-conscious women and unfortunately it is these women who are far more susceptible to the adverse health effects of heavy drinking – much more so than men.

The health dangers in females are both immediate and long term as Diane explains: “Immediate dangers are things like having an accident or sex which you regret – or end up with a sexually transmitted infection or pregnancy. But longer-term dangers include a wide range of health problems – this could include psychological problems such as depression and anxiety, or physical illness such as high blood pressure, liver cirrhosis, several cancers, stomach and digestive system problems – the list could go on and on.”

Reasons for alcohol abuse

In today’s society both men and women are drinking more than ever – in fact consumption levels have doubled in the last 50 years.
Three main reasons for this are: the lower price of alcohol; the ease of purchasing alcohol and heavy marketing by the industry – a massive £800 million on advertising is spent each year. Many believe that alcohol misuse in today’s society can be explained by the four Ps in marketing – promotion; place; price and product design.

However according to Diane, there are additional factors which may explain heavy drinking among females.
She says: “Often girls get together before a night out to get ready together, and this usually involves pre-loading – basically getting drink cheaply from the supermarket or off-sales to drink before heading to the pub or a club.”

Also, many females are drinking wine in the belief that this is part of a healthy lifestyle, when in fact only very small amounts of wine drank by post-menopausal females can have any beneficial effect on the heart. Though even this is questionable.

There are many ways in which females can maintain a healthy weight and continue to have the odd drink without compromising their health. Diane advises young women to go ‘European-style’. She says: “Most Europeans drink and eat at the same time, and being drunk is considered very ‘uncool’ and certainly not chic. If they want to drink and cut down on calories then go for lower calorie filled drinks rather than cutting out on food. This should never be a ‘one or the other’ option. Eating on an empty stomach is simply reckless.”

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