Alcoholism and eating disorders frequently co–occur. Up to 50% of individuals with eating disorders abused alcohol or illicit drugs, a rate five times higher than the general population. Up to 35% of individuals who abused or were dependent on alcohol or other drugs have also had eating disorders, a rate 11 times greater than the general population.
That is why we have asked Gretchen Rouster to join us tonight.
Anna, can you introduce Gretchen to our Recovered Podcast listeners?
Gretchen holds a Bachelors in psychology and a Masters in clinical Social Work and has been working as a psychotherapist since 1991. She has a specialty in treating trauma, anxiety, and depression. Gretchen began pursuing specialized training in eating disorders in 2004 and has been training and treating clients with eating disorders for the past fifteen years. Gretchen, you have a private practice in Ypsilanti where you treat adults 18 and over and also provide clinical supervision to social workers seeking full licensure.
Hello Gretchen and welcome to the Recovered Podcast Studio. Have you ever been here before?
Gretchen, the Recovered Podcast is a story of hope. Gretchen, we believe recovery possible for everyone.
Gretchen, what is the first thing you want to say to that person right now who is listening and thinks they may not just have a drinking problem, ut also an eating disorder as well? (just a quick statement that treatment is available and recovery is possible and maybe where to start the search for help 1-800 number or website)
Gretchen, most of our audience are professed alcoholic or drug addicted and are seeking recovery. In the recovering process, other disorders can surface. Gretchen, let’s focus on the sober individual who is concerned with their current eating patterns. Let’s give information, so everyone can be more informed and make recovery possible and reduce the stigma around eating disorders.
How does someone get help? Where should an individual start in getting treatment for an eating disorder?
So Gretchen let’s focus on specifically on Eating Disorders. Alcohol and eating disorder behaviors may help people find a way to numb their problems, pain and anxiety — but it comes at a huge cost. Most of our audience are very familiar with substance abuse and the toll that takes, but let’s take a look at some specific eating disorders and talk about their characteristics and the consequences.
Help us understand these conditions:
anorexia nervosa (AN). What are the symptoms and treatment?
bulimia nervosa (BN), What are the symptoms and treatment?
binge eating disorder [BED]). What are the symptoms and treatment?
Gretchen, as I understand it, eating disorders and substance abuse share a number of common risk factors, including brain chemistry, family history, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and social pressures.
How can family of origin contribute to eating disorders?
When you uncover some of these risk factors with you client, how do you start the therapeutic process, what is that like?
Why do you think these risk factors are shared between substance abusers and eating disordered people?
Gretchen, I can see how drugs and alcohol function as an escape from underlying stress, anxiety, sadness, fear or trauma. I also understand how drugs and alcohol help to provide immediate relief from pain and anxiety. Gretchen, help us understand how eating can do this as well?
We asked our listeners about this topic.
Now, listeners, If you would like to participate in these weekly surveys, just email me an invite request. Email me at
And I will send you an invite to our Recoveredcast Google group. This group receives the show notes for the upcoming show. You will also receive an invite to participate in the weekly survey. You will also receive a link to call into the show so you can share you experience with the recovery topic. This group helps us prepare for each week’s topic.
Again, just email a google group invite request to
To get involved in each week’s show prep.
We asked our listeners,
“What helps when you are feeling inferior?”
Did you take the survey?
What would be your answer?
Gretchen, you know that our listeners have been anticipating your appearance today, and listener Penny emailed me and shared some thoughts I’d like to discuss with you.
There is a saying I hear a lot t 12 step recovery meetings. O hear that overeaters have it worse than other addicts: Alcoholics can put a plug in the jug and then on a shelf but, overeaters have to let the tiger out of its cage 3 times a day.
Penny doesn’t like this saying because alcoholics still have to drink everyday just like overeaters have to eat everyday. The point is what the individual chooses to eat or drink. What are some of your thoughts around this controversy?
What are some of your thoughts about the therapeutic effect of spirituality as it relates to eating disorder recovery?
Gretchen, are you familiar with the term “allergy of the body” as it relates to alcoholics anonymous literature. The theory is that for some problem drinkers, when that person puts alcohol in the body, it triggers an allergic like reaction. The reaction is an uncontrollable compulsion to drink more. And so this type of alcoholic does. This is called, an “allergy of the body” condition. Have you ever treated someone who has this type of behavior regarding food?
Penny also writes:
Is there a difference or propensity for gender to be drawn to any one specific eating disorder such as bulimia, restricting, anorexia, binge eating and others.
Is therapy viewed as an aide to recovery of eating disorders?
Penny also write:
Being an alcoholic still has a stigma attached, but it is commonly viewed as a disease and there is great compassion if you seek help for drinking. But being overweight is viewed as loss of control, not a disease. Stigma remains for the overeater. Your thoughts?
Talk to the person who is listening and is frightened by their eating patterns.
We have calls –
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Thank you again
If you have experience with
Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse
you can call right now
PLAY THE JINGLE – file in google drive
Now, Let’s take calls
First up, we have
Anonymous (Doug from Delaware)
What would you say to the new guy about Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse?
So Remember; abandon yourself to God and admit your faults. Clear away the wreckage of your past and give freely. God bless and see you next time.