Treatment for Prescription Drug Abuse & Eating Disorders

Trying to overcome an eating disorder and an addiction to prescription drugs can feel overwhelming and discouraging, but your struggle does not need to define you. At Center for Hope of the Sierras, we understand your multifaceted nature. While you may be struggling, you are also bright, resilient, and creative. We believe that with the right help, a better tomorrow can be within your grasp sooner than you think.

Prescription drugs are designed to make your life better, but they also have the potential to be misused. Many people with eating disorders also suffer from co-occurring mental health conditions or chronic pain, and in these situations, one’s treatment may include prescription medications. Some of these medications, such as anti-anxiety drugs, stimulant medications, or painkillers, can bring about strong pleasurable feelings when they are misused. In many cases, when one is battling an eating disorder, a misguided resolution to alleviating emotional pain manifests in the form prescription drug use. No matter how your prescription drug addiction developed, at Center for Hope, we are committed to helping you recover and restore balance in your life.

Center for Hope is one of the few treatment centers that offers comprehensive treatment for both eating disorders and co-occurring prescription drug abuse. Given the sensitive and unique nature of these conditions, we provide specialized programs that are designed to support you as you mend the wounds that underlie your eating disorder and prescription drug abuse. We believe that you are more than your struggle. You are a talented and unique person, and at Center for Hope, we welcome every facet of you and would be honored to be the place where you come to heal.

get confidential help now: 775.204.0680 Email Us


According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), nearly 8 million people in the U.S. abuse prescription drugs in a given month, and according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), 30 million people are diagnosed with eating disorders. Data is limited on the prevalence of co-occurring eating disorders and prescription drug abuse, but there is strong evidence to suggest that the frequency of both eating disorders and prescription drug abuse is holding steady, if not increasing. Unfortunately, of those who suffer from eating disorders, only one in ten seek treatment, according to ANAD.

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

Research into prescription drug abuse strongly suggests that the addiction arises due to a complex mix of genetic and environmental risk factors, as described below:

Genetic: Research indicates that a person’s family plays an important role in determining one’s vulnerability to prescription drug abuse. Data from family studies shows that people whose parents have a prescription drug addiction are more likely to struggle with an addiction as well. This is also true for people with co-occurring disorders. When a person’s family member struggles with an eating disorder and prescription drug abuse, that person is also more likely to struggle with both disorders.

Environmental: In addition to genetics, a person’s environment also influences the risk of developing a prescription drug abuse problem. People who grow up in environments wherein they are exposed to prescription drug abuse are more likely to abuse prescription drugs in adolescence and adulthood.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of mental illness or substance abuse
  • Personal history of mental illness or other substance abuse
  • Stress in one’s environment
  • Family culture that is highly focused on appearance, weight, or dieting
  • Exposure to others who abuse prescription drugs

Signs and Symptoms of Prescription Drug Abuse among Those Suffering from Eating Disorders

The signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse vary depending on the nature of the drug abuse and a person’s drug of choice. That being said, the following are among the more prevalent signs and symptoms that people struggling with this form of substance abuse might experience:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Secretiveness about one’s whereabouts or activities
  • Seeking out multiple doctor’s appointments to obtain multiple prescriptions
  • Restlessness
  • Changes in work performance
  • Avoiding formerly-enjoyable activities

Physical symptoms:

  • Excessive energy or limited amounts of energy
  • Jitteriness, shaking, or tremors
  • Changes in weight
  • Sleep problems
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of coordination

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Poor memory, attention, or concentration
  • Poor problem-solving abilities
  • Slowed thought processes
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Delirium
  • Suicidal thoughts

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Drastic mood swings
  • Irritability or agitation
  • Mania
  • Emotional numbness or detachment
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 Prescription Drug Abuse among Those Suffering from Eating Disorders

If your struggle with an eating disorder and comorbid prescription drug abuse continues unimpeded, you may experience a number of negative effects. Some of these effects may include:

  • Strained or broken relationships
  • Poor academic or job performance
  • Expulsion or job loss
  • Financial strain
  • Loss of child custody
  • Malnutrition
  • Organ damage

Co-Occurring Disorders

Prescription drug abuse can often co-occur with eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder. However, it can also co-occur with other mental health conditions, including:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Body dysmorphic disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Personality disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

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 co-occurring conditions, including an addiction to prescription drugs.

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 an addiction to Adderall, in addition to struggling to overcome 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, 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. Because we value providing individualized treatment to all of our clients, we have designed our program to be one of the only programs in the country that accommodates individuals with celiac disease, and individuals who adhere to vegan and vegetarian diets.

Our treatment philosophy at Center for Hope is rooted in the principles of intuitive eating. We believe that food is only fuel for our bodies, nothing more, and we also believe that our bodies are capable of signaling us when they are hungry or full. Because food is fuel and our bodies know how much fuel they need, intuitive eaters are able to respond to their bodies’ needs without judgment or anxiety. Intuitive eating seeks to remove the dieting mentality and replace it with the joy you can feel when you honor your body by giving it the fuel it needs to function in a healthy manner. We believe that intuitive eating provides you with a robust foundation for lifelong healthy eating practices.

The process of helping you become a mindful eater as you overcome your eating disorder and prescription drug abuse includes a carefully-designed and personalized blend of therapeutic interventions. These interventions may include:

Medication management: If you are suffering from a co-occurring mental health condition ,in addition to an eating disorder and prescription drug abuse problem, 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:

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

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

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

In addition to the previously mentioned therapeutic interventions, 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 to help support you as you work to find freedom from prescription drug addiction.

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 prescription drugs, 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 help you remain on the path to lasting recovery.

get confidential help now: 775.204.0680 Email Us