Eating disorders have already been recognized by medical professionals for some time, specifically the mental health professionals. These afflictions have been identified as a wide range of irregular eating behaviors that include:
- Anorexia nervosa – a form of self-starvation
- Bulimia nervosa – binging and purging
- Binge eating disorder
- Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)
There is also something called “disordered eating”, which can include behaviors which reflect many of the symptoms of other eating disorders such as anorexia, but not all of them.
But now one drug may bring us to wonder if we can actually become able to fix an eating disorder, or if the mistake of our society is to think we can just throw pills at our problems. Last month the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the ADHD drug Vyvanse to be used for treating binge-eating disorder, so some believe it could be very possible either way.
Binge eating disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder in the United States. BED affects 1% to 5% of Americans, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. It can lead to or contribute to obesity, and when they say an ‘episode of binge-eating’, it has been described in the DSM-V as:
“eating, in a discrete period of time (usually two hours), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.”
Changing the Menu for Medication
This is a big shift in the strategy for eating disorder treatment, because now for the first time the FDA has actually approved a medication to treat those suffering from an eating disorder.
Vyvanse is a central nervous system stimulant. It was approved in 2007 to treat ADHD in people 6 and older. Back in 2007 the drug Vyvanse itself was first approved to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But now, according to the FDA, it is considered an effective opportunity to aid in curbing episodes of binge-eating.
In clinical studies involving 724 people, those on Vyvanse binged fewer days each week than those taking placebos. Yet there are still some who are not convinced that a drug can treat binge-eating disorder.
The FDA stated Vyvanse was approved to treat BED after being tested in 2 clinical trials. Those studies were sponsored by Shire, the drug’s maker, using 724 people with moderate to severe versions of the disorder. But even though they claim this is a promising answer to the BED problem, they admitted they have no clue why? Sandy Walsh from the FDA office of media affairs wrote in an email,
“We have no direct evidence about how Vyvanse works in BED. The exact mechanism of action of the drug in reducing the symptoms of BED is … unknown.”
But what is known is that Vyvanse does come with side-effects, one of them being the possibility for abuse, along with several other health risks including:
- Heart attack
- Psychotic symptoms
- Sudden death for those with heart problems
This brings one to wonder how much help this drug can really be to those already dealing with a compulsive health issue.
Experts against this Idea
Not everyone is as confident in Vyvanse as the drug company making it. Melissa Gerson, who is the clinical director of Columbus Park Collaborate, an outpatient treatment center in New York for people with eating disorders, spoke up about her concerns with trying to sell a stimulant as a one-stop-shop for fixing eating disorders. Gerson said,
“I just don’t want there to be the message that there’s a simple pill you can take. There are longstanding behavior patterns that need to be explored and shifted.”
Melissa Hopper, a psychologist who is an expert in treating binge-eating disorder said,
“Binge-eating disorder is a complex”
She also insists that the most effective method of treatment is done through therapy, not by taking pills. Another expert to speak out against the idea of feeding Vyvanse to BED sufferers is a New York psychotherapist who specializes in treating eating disorders named Emily Rosenthal, who added to the argument that patients with eating disorders often struggle with other issues, such as:
Without addressing these issues and problematic behaviors that cause binge-eating disorder, most experts believe that it is very unlikely to achieve any sort of real long-term recovery from these eating disorders. Like most addictions or compulsive disorders, it is not as simple as popping a pill and calling it a day. A drug like Vyvanse stimulates the dopamine center of the brain which regulates pleasure sensors. This causes a feeling of euphoria and a loss of appetite, making it a sought after solution for those who seek a quick-fix to their dieting struggles. But this does not at all make it a healthy solution.
Of course medications that are stimulant based are going to curb an appetite. Some would say if we want to sell dangerous stimulant drugs as cures for eating disorders we might as well throw cocaine and meth in the mix too. All these drugs have a nasty habit of tearing up your body, and helping you starve yourself. The most effective ways of dealing with binge-eating disorder are the combined efforts of therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), along with intensive outpatient programs (IOP) or nutrition counseling.
Eating disorders are more than a one dimensional issue. These kinds of disorders require more than a pill that makes you less hungry, there has to be more done to improve on the individuals self-image, coping skills, and other aspects of their recovery. Handing someone a pill who already has issues with compulsion can be like handing a gun to someone who plays too much with knives, someone is going to get hurt. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588
What is Holistic Drug Treatment?
An holistic approach to health is one that views the person as a whole and seeks to treat all of their needs: psychological, physical, and social. Holistic drug treatment for women understands the importance that all of the aspects that make us human beings need to be taken into account when treating women for chemical dependence, substance abuse, and addiction issues.
Holistic drug treatment for women uses this approach because it supports the working definition of addiction – a three-fold disease: a mental obsession, a physical allergy, and a spiritual malady. In other words, addiction afflicts the mind, body, and spirit.
In the umbrella field of drug addiction treatment, holistic drug treatment for women occupies a very specific corner of the industry, offering the same services as typical treatment centers yet, in addition, offering a wider variety of both ancient and state-of-the-art techniques for healing someone who is suffering from drug addiction. Therefore, holistic drug treatment centers provide treatment approaches that address each part of the whole of the individual who seeks help.
Holistic Drug Treatment for Women
Research shows that there are a great many benefits to holistic therapy as well as to gender-specific treatment. Women tend to fare better when they attend an all-women’s program versus a co-ed one. That’s because a good, accredited holistic drug treatment for women will recognize and address the gender-specific needs and issues of their female clientele.
Programs that provide alcohol and drug addiction treatment for women devote special attention to specific areas like body image, life fulfillment, motherhood and eating disorders.
Programs that specialize in treating women with substance use disorder are aware of and account for the likelihood that women become addicted more quickly and in different ways than men.
Holistic Drug Treatment for Women: Detox
The first step at holistic drug treatment for women is a medical detox program where you will first be evaluated. You will first be tested to see which specific substances are in your system as well as given an interview to evaluate you for potential dual diagnosis, co-occurring disorders, such as mental or behavioral issues and other physical ailments.
Your will then be given specific medications as well as offered certain services, such as sauna/sweat lodge, massage, acupuncture, to assist you with your detox process in making you as comfortable and safe as possible while you are stabilized, being made comfortable and safe.
Holistic Drug Treatment for Women: Rehab
Holistic drug treatment for women offers other programs to support further healing and recovery for the remainder of the 30 days or so of the program after your initial detox process. Programs offered include yoga and exercise classes; activities like golf and volleyball; nutritional support; vitamin therapy; chiropractic treatment; spa treatments.
Holistic drug treatment for women focuses on treating the individual as a whole and works to identify the importance of having a well-rounded program of recovery. The techniques and methods they use are geared towards having lasting effects for overall success in recovery. You will receive both individualized therapy and group therapy, which will give you the benefits of one-on-one attention as well as having the support and connection with peers. Holistic drug treatment for women promotes the development of healthy habits and gives you the tools to use in being successful in your sobriety.
The Orchid Recovery Center is an all-women’s treatment program that offers holistic approaches to therapy in order to set up our clients for success and health, happiness, and sobriety. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588.
“The staggering increase in the number of women in prison does not reflect larger numbers of women using drugs, but rather, changes in criminal sentencing.”
When it comes to the so-called War on Drugs, it’s becoming generally-accepted that it has deep roots in racism: just look at how many people of color are in prison on nonviolent drug charges.
But what about the drug war and gender? While not as widely discussed as racism, there is another “ism” that’s entwined with drug policy: sexism. It infiltrates every aspect of drug policy, even within the movement to reform the current policies, leading to consequences on how women who use drugs are viewed, treated and punished.
Sexism in the War on Drugs
Women are currently the fastest growing population in U.S. prisons. According to the ACLU report “Caught in the Net,” the number of females in prison has increased at twice the rate of their male counterparts—even more so for women of color over the past three decades. From 1977 to 2007, the female prison population grew by 832%, while the male population grew by 416%. Two-thirds of these women are serving time for nonviolent offenses and more than three-quarters are mothers.
This trend doesn’t mean that larger numbers of women are using drugs. The shocking increase in the number of incarcerated women reflects the changes that have been made to the process of criminal sentencing.
For example, many of the women in prison are there simply because they were living with a boyfriend or husband who committed drug offenses in their home. And, women who refuse to testify against their spouse or partner can face conspiracy charges as well as the drug charges, which, often times, causes them to serve longer sentences than the partner who actually committed the crime.
For women who don’t get swept up into the system this way, they are nevertheless deeply affected by the current war on drugs; they are often left behind as sole caretakers of the next generation if/when their partners are incarcerated. And, when men are released from prison, they are often dehumanized, angry, and unable to get decent jobs due to their criminal records. This means that they re-enter households that are headed up by women, who are now left with yet another mouth to feed. All this can lead to a potentially volatile situation on the home front.
“Men come back from prison with trauma and not much marketability because employers won’t hire formerly incarcerated people,” says Xochitl Bervera, co-director of the Racial Justice Action Center in Georgia. The R.J. Action Center runs a program organizing currently and formerly incarcerated women to reduce the number of women in jails and prisons.
Sexism in the War on Drugs: Impact on Health Issues
Besides the growing prison population, there is other bad news for women when it comes to current drug policy. Fatal drug overdoses for men have tripled in the past decade but, the number of women dying of opioid drug overdose has increased by five times during the same period of time. Women of color are also the fasting growing demographic of people with HIV, which can be contracted through IV drug use or by having sex with a partner who has injected drugs.
Sexism in the War on Drugs: Stigma
Drug use and abuse still carry a negative stigma, that they indicate some sort of moral failing on the user’s part. When you combine that with society’s high standards when it comes to mothers, women also bear the brunt of this stigma.
While it’s true that absentee fathers who use drugs are considered “deadbeat dads,” they are still given more of a “pass” than those who are mothers and who use drugs – something that seems to be an unforgivable offense. Furthermore, women who do admit to drug use run the risk of losing their children and suffer greater economic and social consequences than their male counterparts. In fact, some states have even passed legislation that criminalizes pregnant women who use drugs.
Last year, Tennessee passed a law that says pregnant women can be criminally charged with assault if their baby is born with withdrawal symptoms associated with opiate use. Despite strong opposition from the medical community, which pointed out that such a law would deter pregnant women from seeking drug treatment and prenatal care out of fear, which puts both mother and fetus at greater risk for poor birth outcomes. The law passed anyway.
“Society views drug use as a moral problem and women, especially mothers, are judged the most harshly,” says Senga Carroll, Training Director at UNC Horizons, a program that works with pregnant and parenting women with substance use disorders in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “A number of women [in our program] have described delivering babies in small hospitals and being made to feel like ‘dirt beneath the dirt’ by medical staff. This is a major concern because women who feel judged will often lie to health care providers about their situation and if we don’t have a clear picture of what is going on, we can’t get the best help for the mother and baby.”
If you are struggling with a substance use disorder or drug addiction and don’t know where to turn, The Orchid Recovery Center can help. We are an all-women treatment and rehabilitation center that specializes in addressing the specific needs that affect women. Please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588.
They say we always hurt the ones we love the most, and too many young people have been raised in homes where that meant violence enacted against them or upon one parent from the other. Beyond that sexual assault is a terrible and tragic reality in the world today, claiming the lives of thousands of women every year, and destroying homes and families.
Sexual assault is defined as an involuntary sexual act in which a person is coerced or physically forced to engage in. Today both military and civilian prosecutors are beginning to take a groundbreaking approach to cases involving sexual assault and the use of alcohol by defining it as a weapon.
Facts of Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is any non-consensual sexual touching of a person, and as considered a form of sexual violence includes:
- Domestic Violence
- Child sexual abuse
- Sexual Harassment
- Tortureof the person in a sexual manner
In legal terms, sexual assault is a statutory offense in various jurisdictions, including the United States. The legal definition of the crime of sexual assault is determined by each jurisdiction, but all forms of sexual assault can have severe residual effects on an individual who has been attacked.
Statistics of Sexual Assault
Girls ages 16–19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. Ages 12-34 are the highest risk years. But the victims are not limited to this demographic. The victims of sexual assault come in all forms, and it is estimated that sexual assault also has different drastic effects. Victims of sexual assault are believed by experts to be:
- 3 times more likely to suffer from depression
- 6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder
- 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol
- 26 times more likely to abuse drugs
- 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide
Nearly half of the 6,000 sexual assault cases across the Department of Defense last year reportedly involved alcohol to some extent, while a 2013 Pentagon report found the number to be closer to 1/3.
Alcohol as Ammo in US Military
The military referred to alcohol as a weapon in a sexual assault prevention guidance packet for commanders, and apparently this was not the first time someone had expressed this classification. Last May Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel mirrored these claims that alcohol was a dangerous factor in sexual assault cases.
So the US military is moving to lead the charge against sexual assault and alcohol abuse, and many experts feel that alcohols implementation as a weapon against victims, especially against women, is greatly underestimated. Katharina Booth is the chief of the Boulder District Attorney’s Office sexual assault unit, as well as the chief trial deputy. She believes alcohol is used as a weapon in sexual assault cases more than guns, threats, or fists.
Last week the United States military required Air Force Academy leaders to attend a presentation on sexual assault and the academy’s new stance on alcohol’s role in these attacks, as part of the push to re-evaluate their sexual policy. Recently Air Force academy spokesman Lt. Col. Brus Vidal made a statement regarding this shift saying,
“The issues of binge drinking and sexual assault are complex, societal challenges that all colleges and universities across the nation struggle with. The academy, like all other college campuses, is not immune to these national problems, and we remain committed to addressing and eliminating both sexual harassment and sexual assault. The academy remains firm in its commitment to vigorously combat sexual assaults and harassment through the very best awareness and prevention training and base-wide initiatives.”
This much is true. Drinking is a huge part of daily affairs on any college campus, so it is good to see the military trying to lead the way in making a change. Cadets in military schools also receive a weekly paycheck and have most of their expenses covered, meaning these students have more money to drink recklessly. Binge drinking of course becomes an issue, especially with excessive amounts of alcohol available.
The former vice superintendent at the academy Major General Irv Halter made a statement that it is not just a military problem with drinking, but that our culture today promotes drugs and alcohol as one of the highlights of our lives, and young people need to be given a better example to follow. Halter stated,
“We as a society need to figure out how to tell people that going and getting silly drunk on the weekend is not in your best interest.”
It is believed that many victims of sexual assault never report the attacks against them, often out of a misplaced sense of blame, which means the statistics we have aren’t nearly the whole problem. However, the Pentagon reported last month that 24% of military sexual assault victims reported their crimes last year, up from 11% a year earlier. In just one year there has been some change, but hopefully the future will hold a better understand and awareness across the board of alcohols influence in sexual assaults.
Sexual assault is often at the root of other conditions such as PTSD and depression, and can become a huge part of someones drug or alcohol abuse issues. Sometimes these other factors are what keep us holding onto the habits that are killing us, but there is a way out. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588
Monica Seles is the Yugoslav former tennis champion who won 9 Grand Slam competitions and 53 singles titles before her 2008 retirement. She is a celebrated athlete who is a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In 1990, Seles became the youngest-ever French Open champion at the age of 16. She went on to win eight Grand Slam singles titles before her 20th birthday and was the year-end World No. 1 in 1991 and 1992.
Seles also says that during her incredible sports career, she secretly struggled with an eating disorder that put her in serious danger. Seles says her eating disorder was “just uncontrollable” and has released a new public service announcement in conjunction with the Binge Eating Disorder Association and National Eating Disorders Association.
Part of her personal mission now is to educate people about the disorder of binge eating and inspire others to talk about it and seek help. She stated during a recent interview,
“It took a while until I felt comfortable talking about it. That’s one of the reasons I decided to do this campaign: to raise awareness that binge eating is a real medical condition.”
Seles, who is now 41 years old says that her binge eating began as a coping mechanism in response to various traumas, including:
- Pressures of her tennis career
- Her dad’s battle with prostate cancer
- Her recovery from being stabbed in 1993 on the court by an obsessive fan
All of which took a serious toll on the young woman during the peak of her popularity, all these factors fueled her eating disorder in the beginning.
At the time Seles was the top women’s player. She had been dominating the French Open 3 consecutive years, winning each time, along with both the US Open and Australian Open in consecutive years. This gained her a lot of attention, but not all of it was good.
On April 30 Seles was ahead 6–4, 4–3 in a quarterfinal match against Magdalena Maleeva in Hamburg. Günter Parche, an obsessed fan of Steffi Graf, ran from the middle of the crowd to the edge of the court during a break between games and stabbed Seles with a boning knife! The wound was 0.59 inches deep between her shoulder blades.
Although her physical injuries took only a few weeks to heal, Seles was obviously compromised by the ordeal, because she went on hiatus from competitive tennis for over 2 years. German authorities were quick to rule this out, describing her attacker as confused and possibly mentally disturbed. Parche was charged following the incident, but because he was found to be psychologically abnormal he was sentenced to 2 years’ probation and psychological treatment in lieu of jail time.
Changing the Game
Seles’s weight fluctuated as a result of her binge-eating junk foods. Binge eating is a serious condition typically described as uncontrollable eating large amounts in a short period of time. People with binge eating disorder frequently eat large amounts of food (beyond the point of feeling full) while feeling a loss of control over their eating. Often, these habits are a way of coping with depression, stress, or anxiety.
This is actually the most common eating disorder among U.S. adults. Binge-eating affects more people than anorexia and bulimia, but stigma exists with binge-eating and eating disorders much like it does with other addictions, compulsive behaviors or mental disorders. That and the lack of information can make it difficult for sufferers to receive diagnosis and treatment. Seles said,
“It was very hard to understand how on the tennis court, I would be so focused and so disciplined in my training, but when it came to binge eating I had zero control. I felt really embarrassed about it.”
The tennis champ describes her diagnosis as “a big relief” and says she is in active recovery and already noticing progress in her eating habits. Monica Seles is now the face of a new public service campaign about an eating disorder that affects an estimated 2.8 million Americans, and is proud to use her own experience and understanding of the fear and shame she felt to help others struggling.
Even athletes and people who are trained to be fit and healthy can fall victim to eating disorders, and sometimes it happens without them even realizing it. But there is a way to escape those eating habits, and there are people out there more than willing to help. If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, substance abuse or another addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588