Eating disorders and substance abuse can cover such a wide range of conditions, but it’s still impossible to categorize every single type of eating disorder, or every single type of substance abuse. There are so many factors to take into consideration when diagnosing a substance abuse problem or an eating disorder that it has become necessary to create a catchall class for conditions that don’t fit into the recognized and established conventions. This classification is called “not otherwise specified” (or simply “not specified”)
What is Substance Abuse?
Some drugs are sold legally, like opium-derived painkillers and prescribed by medical practitioners, while others or sold illegally. If any of these drugs are used more or in the wrong way will cause damage to the user. This damage may be physical or physiological. Such use of drugs is called drug or substance abuse and often termed sloley as substance abuse. Some examples of drugs that are often used in wrong ways, substance abuse, are the following;
- Opioids (opium-derived drugs)
The exact reasons for drug or substance abuse are still a mystery, but medical researchers agree at one point. Substance abuse or drug abuse is the consequence of drug (substance) addiction. If a person got addicted to a specific drug, he would take more and more dose after each passing day to satisfy his central nervous system. This will result in substance abuse.
Now the question arises, why people get Substance Abuse or Drug Addicted?
The medical researchers present the following reasons for addiction;
- Genetics – Substance Abuse may be inherited from parents to their children.
- Mental health disorder – such as depression and anxiety
- Physical health disease – that may result in mental disorder and hence patient moves towards Substance Abuse
- Opium-derived legal drugs – use of such drugs for more extended periods may cause addiction
A person with one or more of the above reasons may develop addiction and drug or substance abuse.
What are Eating Disorders?
Eating is a regular activity, but it may be a disease or disorder when a person starts overeating without physical needs. An eating disorder is considered a mental disorder and covers abnormal eating habits. These odd eating habits have negative impacts on both the physical and physiological health of a person.
Classification of Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are categorized into several types. Some of those are enlisted and explained here:
- Binge Eating Disorder A person with binge eating disorder eats larger amounts of food within short time spans. It will cause an uncontrolled increase in body weight. The affected person may face episodes of illness occurring with regular patterns, maybe once a week.
- Anorexia Nervosa It is considered a type of phobia. People having this disorder always feel intense fear of gaining weight. As a result of this fear, they eat significantly less and may exercise too much to manage their anxiety. It will cause severe weakness and may hinder performing routine activities.
- Bulimia Nervosa It’s the most occurring eating disorder. A person with this disorder first overeats then behaves compensatory actions like self-induced vomiting to rid him of food.
- Pica It is one of the most dangerous eating disorders. People start eating non-food items. These non-food items are primarily harmless but possess zero nutritional value, such as ice. But in severe cases, they may eat harmful things like paint or even metal pieces.
- Rumination syndrome Rumination is a routine activity in ruminants (multi stomach animals like a cow). In this phenomenon, ingested food is brought back to the mouth, re-chewed and swallowed again. Although this process is not present in humans, some people may have this disorder and named rumination disorder. This syndrome is an abnormality and mainly occurs as the consequences of some physical health issue, especially in the case of viral diseases.
- Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder In this case, people are found to very “choosy” about foods. They eat significantly less and only selective foods. It mainly occurs as a result of different psychological disorders.
- Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED) In some conditions, patients possess very different criteria of eating disorder. The symptoms may resemble more than two disorders at a time or may differ from all the categories as mentioned earlier. This condition is called unspecified feeding or eating disorder. Such people have shown symptoms never come in line with any single sort of the types mentioned above of eating disorders. The symptoms shown by affected persons may vary over time.
It was reported that approximately 9% of the world population have an eating disorder. About 28.8 million citizens of the United States of America possess the problem or have faced once in their life. But only 6% of these people have shown a reduction in body weight. Genetics also played an essential role in spreading eating disorders. The death rate is much higher in eating disorders as compared to other mental health issues. It was found second after opium-derived Substance Abuse as a source of death. Available data showed that more than ten thousand people die each year as eating disorder victims. Among these, 26% of people attempt suicide because of severe eating disorders. These disorders of no public importance cause approximately $64.7 billion loss each year.
Eating Disorder not Otherwise Specified
It is a nonspecific eating disorder. Symptoms may resemble two or more specified types or may not compare with any of these types. In most cases eating disorder not otherwise specified (abbreviated as EDNOS) does not approach the criteria of diagnosis for anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. A few patients also observed that persons having eating disorder not otherwise specified might show mild symptoms of both anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, two of the most common types.
For example, the National Institutes of Health says that girls with anorexia will face irregular menstrual cycles after puberty. On the other hand, the Office of Women’s Health I the Department of Health and Human Services claims that these irregular menstrual cycles are not because of energy deficiency; instead, these are due to a girl’s body. So, when a woman shows all the symptoms of anorexia nervosa and still has regular menstrual cycles will be considered a victim of an eating disorder not otherwise specified.
A patient suffering from rumination disorder re-chews and spits the ingested food, but if a person does the same except swallowing will be considered a patient of eating disorder not otherwise specified.
So, there is no well-defined category of this disorder.
It was reported in the journal named Psychological Bulletin that said eating disorder not otherwise specified has the maximum prevalence among all the categories of eating disorders. The National Alliance depicted similar research results on Mental Illness. Both studies showed that far more people are diagnosed with this non-specified disorder than diagnosed in all other specified categories. The Psychological Bulletin showed that specialty clinics diagnosed 40 to 60% of the patients had EDNOS, while this number increased to 90% in non-specialized community clinics.
Symptoms of Eating Disorder not Otherwise Specified
It is challenging to properly underline an eating disorder’s signs and symptoms not otherwise specified because of this disorder’s complex nature. Although there are no concrete shreds of evidence about the symptoms of substance abuse, it is still the most occurring type of eating disorders. The National Eating Disorders Collaboration of Australia reported that a person suffering from an eating disorder not otherwise specified might show one or more of the following symptoms;
- Unhealthy and abnormal eating practices and habits
- Irrelevant and improper feeling about own image of the body
- Weight phobia – Intense distress of weight gain
Similar symptoms as in substance abuse are possessed by people suffering from bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. But people with eating disorder not otherwise specified may also show the below signs;
- Inconsistency in body weight
- Irregular menstrual cycles in women
- Lack of libido (sexual desire) in men
- Impaired immune system
- Weakness & muscle fatigue
- Lack of confidence
Substance Abuse and Eating Disorder not Specified
Drug or substance abuse may coincide with eating disorders and will result in many severe consequences. It was depicted by the National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University that the presence of one problem, either substance abuse or eating disorder, increases the chances of other many times. Eating disorders were found to increase the risk of drug or substance abuse up to five times compared to people without eating disorders. In a similar way, people who were facing substance abuse were found to be eleven times more susceptible to eating disorders when compared with those people who never involved in substance abuse.
It was also part of the report that fifty percent of people having any types of eating disorder involved in drug or substance abuse. At the same time, this number was just nine percent in the case of people having no eating disorder. It was found that 35 percent of people with any type of eating disorder made drug-dependent with time, and this figure is only three percent for ordinary people.
Getting Help for an Eating Disorder not Otherwise Specified
Although the prevalence of this type of eating disorder is more than others and found more dangerous than Substance Abuse, other categories also cause severe damage. Whatever the type of eating disorder you are facing, it will harm your mental health and physical health. You may meet abnormal dietary habits resulting in depression and anxiety. Some people may face starving and rapid weight losses leading to weakness and loss of immunity. The risk of heart disorders also increases due to lower heartbeat and blood pressure.People with eating disorders are also at risk for low heart rate, low blood pressure, and osteoporosis.
If you have any of the Substance Abuse symptoms, contact us for complete guidance and treatment until the perfect cure. We have qualified professionals who are always willing to help you and your family in any case of substance abuse and eating disorders. We also have a Dual Diagnosis section to treat the persons suffering from both problems simultaneously. We will provide complete care to help you cure completely through different therapy plans designed according to your needs. Feel free to contact us 24/7. Please call now to talk with one of our admissions coordinators about how we can help with substance abuse.
Ben Lesser is one of the most sought-after experts in health, fitness and medicine. His articles impress with unique research work as well as field-tested skills. We are honored to have Ben writing exclusively for Dualdiagnosis.org.