A finding whose significance I missed during Dr. Timothy Brewerton’s presentation last Friday morning at the Binge Eating Disorder Association’s national conference: The tremendous confluence in men of substance-use disorders, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
According to Brewerton, 88 percent of men of who exhibit eating disorders and PTSD also exhibit other substance-use disorders. This compares with about 35 percent of women, and is dramatically higher for rates of PTSD or eating disorders alone.
I certainly have a history of engaging in substance abuse, if not dependence: Marijuana first, followed by cocaine, and alcohol a distant third. I’ve never been diagnosed with an SUD, but I probably could have been for many years. Although I would add, my behavior with cocaine helps prove to me that I’m a food addict.
At one point, I was doing enough cocaine, both powder and crack, that my boss pulled me aside and said, “I don’t know what’s wrong, but you’d better fix it.” Not for that reason — not even a threat to livelihood could shake me out of it — but eventually I came to see that there was no satisfaction with coke, ever.
So I quit. No struggle.
But I’ve awakened many mornings with a food hangover (different from alcohol, but same idea) and thought, “Gee, I oughta quit,” but I wasn’t able to until I began adopting addiction-treatment attitudes and practices.
I did too much coke, for sure, but I quit when I decided to. Around excess food, I couldn’t quit without help.
As regards Brewerton’s finding, meanwhile, I’d have to say I fit right in.