A team of researchers at the University of South Australia investigated the prevalence of drunkorexia nervosa among a few hundred female university students. They found that nearly 82 percent of the students demonstrated behaviors associated with the eating disorder over a span of three months.
Drunkorexia nervosa is an eating disorder, which can be described as a combination of anorexia nervosa with alcohol use disorder.
In their study, released in the journal Australian Psychologist, researchers examined the behavior of 479 female students enrolled in a higher education academic institution. The participants were aged between 18-24.
In Australia and other nations, the phenomenon known as drunkorexia is on the surge in young adults. The new study was the first to comprehensively dive into the potential correlation between Early Maladaptive Schemas and the combination of eating disorders and substance abuse.
“The main objectives of this study were to further investigate the prevalence of Drunkorexia behaviour amongst Australian young adult females, and to elucidate the pattern of Early Maladapative Schemes and behaviours associated with Drunkorexia amongst young adult female Australian students,” the findings read.
During their examination of the few hundred students, researchers conducted two stages: the first measured self-reported behavior associated with their alcohol use. Meanwhile, the second stage identified Early Maladapative Schemes.
Generally the result of socio-cultural factors, early maladaptive schemas are important for profoundly understanding the root cause of their purported dysfunctional behavior linked to the condition.
According to researchers, drunkorexia is theoretically the end result of one’s extreme preoccupation with alcohol use and body image, particularly desiring a more thinner physical appearance.
In the findings, it was concluded that 82 percent of female students exhibited drunkorexic traits within a three a month period. Furthermore, 28 percent of the participants surveyed made a habit out of food restriction, increasing their dietary pattern of low-calorie or sugar-free beverages.
Purging, a hallmark trait of eating disorders, commonly observed in bulimia and anorexia, but not orthorexia nervosa, was evident in the participants.
“The Early Maladaptive Schemas most predictive of Drunkorexia‐type behaviour were Insufficient Self‐Control, Emotional Deprivation, and Social Isolation. Early Maladaptive Schemas significantly contributed to the variance in Drunkorexia‐type behaviours, over and above that explained by eating disorder and binge drinking symptomatology,” the study’s co-authors explained.
“Addressing key Early Maladaptive Schemas that may be associated with Drunkorexia‐type behaviours may strengthen future preventative and intervention programs. Given the exploratory nature of this research, further studies are required to clarify the relationship between Early Maladaptive Schemas and Drunkorexia,” researchers concluded.