By Diana Bruk, a Russian-American journalist living in New York, who has written for The New York Times, The Paris Review, Cosmopolitan, Esquire and Elle, amongst other publications.
Substance abuse specialists and mental health advocates have been pushing to recognize different forms of alcoholism – and there’s one that, while common, is only beginning to get national attention: drunkorexia.
The colloquial term is used to describe the habit of engaging in diet-related behavior – such as restricted eating, excessive exercising, or bingeing and purging – prior to consuming alcohol. Unlike traditional alcoholism, the quantity of alcohol isn’t as significant, as it doesn’t take very much to get drunk on an empty stomach. Drunkorexia also seems to disproportionately affect women.
A 2016 study presented by the Research Society on Alcoholism of 1,184 American college students found that 80 percent of them had engaged in drunkorexic behavior in the past three months. And a May 2020 study by the University of South Australia of 479 female Australian university students found that one in three of them had engaged in drunkorexic behavior in the past three months, and more than 28 percent were regularly skipping meals. Which begs the question: if this is such a common practice,…