Treatment for Alcohol Abuse & Eating Disorders

Battling the compulsion to abuse alcohol, in addition to struggling with the symptoms of an eating disorder, can leave you feeling defeated in life, helpless to change, and hopeless about the future. But at Center for Hope of the Sierras, we do not want you to have to continue feeling this way. An eating disorder and an addiction do not define who you are, and we want to show you that changes can be made and a happy, healthy life can be rediscovered.

Sadly, many people who struggle with the symptoms of eating disorders also grapple with the compulsion to chronically abuse alcohol. Alcohol abuse occurs when people continue to consume the substance despite the onset of adverse consequences occurring as a direct result of their consumption. As the most commonly abused drug in the United States, alcohol use is deeply ingrained into modern American culture. Unfortunately, the abuse of this substance has been associated both directly and indirectly with a myriad of negative effects including both short and long-term physical, mental, emotional, and socioeconomic damage. Due to the addictive nature of alcohol, once people begin abusing this substance, it can be difficult for them to stop without professional help. We, at Center for Hope of the Sierras, want to be the source of that help.

At Center for Hope, we understand the unique challenges that you are facing if you are struggling with an eating disorder and a co-occurring alcohol abuse problem. More importantly, our years of experience have allowed us to develop effective, comprehensive treatment approaches that address both disordered eating and alcohol abuse, allowing us to help you discover the solutions you need to pursue a happier and healthier future. We are proud to be one of the few treatment centers in the country that offers truly integrative treatment for co-occurring eating disorders and substance abuse, including the abuse of alcohol.

We know how difficult it can be to overcome an addiction to alcohol while also trying to work through the symptoms of an eating disorder, and our staff wants to guide you, support you, and encourage you as you begin on your healing journey. A brighter future is within your reach, and we want to help you get there.

get confidential help now: 775.204.0680 Email Us


The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that more than 86 percent of adults ages 18 and above in the United States have used alcohol at least once in their lives. Information collected as part of the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) indicates that 8.7 million young people between the ages of 12 and 20, or 23 percent of this age group, have consumed alcohol at least once in the past month.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), one of every two people with an eating disorder is also abusing alcohol or another drug. For example, the National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that women who are dependent upon alcohol are much more likely to exhibit symptoms of binge-eating disorder than are women who do not have a substance abuse problem.

Causes and Risk Factors for Alcohol Abuse among Those Suffering from Eating Disorders

Research indicates that genetics and environmental influences can be contributing factors to the development of alcohol abuse and alcohol use disorder. Consider the following brief descriptions of these influences, as well as the listed risk factors:

Genetic: When a person’s parents or siblings have had problems with abusing alcohol, his or her risk for experiencing similar problems is magnified. Recent advancements in genetic research have led to the identification of several genes and gene clusters that scientists believe play key roles in determining whether or not a person is likely to become addicted to alcohol or other drugs. One’s genetic background can also be instrumental in determining his or her susceptibility to developing symptoms synonymous with an eating disorder. When a person’s family members struggle with the co-occurring concerns of both an eating disorder and an alcohol abuse problem, his or her risk for experiencing similar concerns is also heightened.

Environmental: Growing up in a household where alcohol is openly abused can also be an environmental precursor to developing an alcohol use disorder. Other environmental influences on alcohol abuse may include having been abused, neglected, assaulted, living in poverty, and/or experiencing chronic stress. These same environmental factors can affect a person’s vulnerability to developing symptoms of an eating disorder as well, which often co-occurs alongside alcohol use disorder.

Risk Factors:

  • Being male
  • Abusing alcohol at a young age
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Family history of mental illness and/or substance abuse
  • Personal history of mental illness and/or substance abuse
  • Suffering from abuse, neglect, assault, or another type of trauma
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Associating with peers who abuse alcohol or other drugs

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse among Those Suffering from Eating Disorders

The following signs and symptoms may indicate that a person has been abusing or has become dependent upon alcohol:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Drinking alone or in secret
  • Drinking early in the day
  • Drinking throughout the day
  • Unexplained absences from work or school
  • Decline in academic or work-related performance
  • Acting with unprovoked aggressiveness
  • Acting in a reckless, impulsive, or otherwise dangerous manner

Physical symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Blurred vision
  • Heavy sweating
  • Reddening of the nose and cheeks
  • Jaundice

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Impaired problem-solving skills
  • Impaired judgment
  • Short-term amnesia
  • Hallucinations

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Lacking the ability to feel happiness or pleasure
  • Suicidal ideation
If you feel that you are in crisis, or are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Effects of Alcohol Abuse among Those Suffering from Eating Disorders

If you continue to struggle with the symptoms of an eating disorder while also engaging in chronic alcohol abuse, you are placing yourself at risk for experiencing a number of adverse effects. The following are among the more common negative outcomes that have been associated with untreated alcohol use disorder:

  • Heart disease
  • Anemia
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Inflamed kidneys
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Muscle weakness and atrophy
  • Breathing problems
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Strained or destroyed interpersonal relationships
  • Job loss and chronic unemployment
  • Family dysfunction, separation, and divorce

Co-Occurring Disorders

In addition to eating disorders, the following are among other types of mental health conditions that are commonly experienced by individuals who have engaged in alcohol abuse or developed alcohol use disorder:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depressive disorders
  • Other substance use disorders

Types of Treatment Offered at Center for Hope of the Sierras

Since 2003, we at Center for Hope of the Sierras, have been dedicated to providing caring and compassionate treatment to adolescents and adults who are battling eating disorders. In addition to being a world-class eating disorder treatment center, our knowledgeable staff members are fully trained and qualified to treat an array of other co-occurring conditions, including alcohol abuse and addiction.

Located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Center for Hope offers residential treatment for female adolescents and adults, ages 16 and older, and outpatient treatment for male and female adolescents and adults, ages 14 and older. If you are battling the chronic compulsion to consume alcohol, in addition to struggling with the symptoms of an eating disorder, the highly skilled staff at Center for Hope can provide individualized treatment that is tailored to meet your specific needs.

Nestled in a quiet neighborhood and surrounded by lush lawns and gorgeous trees, Center for Hope provides residential treatment in a beautiful, 10-bed, country-style home that sets the stage for a serene place to begin the healing process. In this cozy and comfortable setting, you will be provided with the opportunity to work with supportive staff members who dedicate themselves to creating a welcoming environment that is truly conducive to healing and lasting recovery. In keeping with our mission to meet individualized needs, we are also pleased to be one of very few eating disorder residential treatment programs that are able to accommodate clients who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, as well as clients with celiac disease.

Additionally, at Center for Hope, we incorporate a philosophy of intuitive eating into our treatment programming, and it is our goal to have you leave treatment being a mindful eater. As part of this philosophy, we will strive to help you get rid of the diet mentality so that you can embrace how food helps fuel your body, while also gaining an understanding of how maintaining appropriate nutrition can help you respect your body and honor your health. We have found that, by adhering to this philosophy, you can develop a greater sense of self-confidence as you successfully overcome the eating disorder symptoms that are plaguing you.

When you participate in residential programming at Center for Hope in order to address an eating disorder and co-occurring alcohol abuse problem, you may engage in the following therapeutic interventions:

Medication management: If you are suffering from a co-occurring mental health condition in addition to an eating disorder and alcohol addiction, you may benefit from the implementation of certain psychotropic medications into your overall treatment plan. The use of any medication, however, is always determined on a case-by-case basis. You will have the opportunity to meet with a psychiatrist once a week, and registered nurses are available to handle all medication management services.

Individual therapy: You will meet with your primary therapist for individual therapy sessions three times each week. These one-to-one sessions are designed to be a time for you to process through your experience in treatment, while also discussing any concerns that you have or any distresses that are plaguing you in a private, confidential setting.

Group therapy: One of the core components of treatment at Center for Hope is group therapy. Led by therapists and social workers, you will participate in two to three groups each day, Monday through Friday. The specific types of groups and the topics discussed in those groups will vary but may include the following:

  • Family systems
  • Body image
  • Mindful eating
  • Life skills
  • Anxiety management
  • Recovery maintenance
  • Art and music appreciation
  • Co-occurring disorders
  • Process group
  • DBT
  • ACT

Experiential therapy: In order to offer a well-rounded approach to treatment, you will be provided with multiple opportunities every week to engage in experiential therapies. These therapies are designed to expand upon the more traditional therapies offered and may include the following:

  • Yoga (offered 1-2 times each week)
  • Equine therapy (offered on a weekly basis)
  • Reiki
  • Massage
  • Creative expressions
  • Music appreciation
  • Cooking class

In addition to the previously mentioned therapeutic interventions, if you who are struggling with co-occurring substance abuse concerns, including an addiction to alcohol, you may also be transported to 12-Step meetings three to five times per week during your stay in Center for Hope’s residential program.

Recognizing that comprehensive treatment does not end when residential treatment is complete, Center for Hope of the Sierras is pleased to offer a full continuum of outpatient treatment services. Including both a partial hospitalization program and an intensive outpatient program, these outpatient services are designed to ensure that you receive the support you need to continue on your recovery journey. Therapists will collaborate with you during your stay in the residential program to make sure that you are comfortable with the transition process as you move into your next level of care. Additionally, Center for Hope’s aftercare coordinator will check in with you in consistent intervals for up to six months following your discharge.

If you are suffering from an eating disorder, while also fighting an addiction to alcohol, look no further than Center for Hope of the Sierras. Our dedicated staff will work with you every step of the way as you make successful strides towards healing. Here, you will receive compassionate care in a supportive environment that will jump-start you on the path to lasting recovery.

get confidential help now: 775.204.0680 Email Us