The drinking scene is pretty familiar to many young adults. University female students, in particular, are the focus of a recent study presenting 'drunkorexic' behaviors in women attending universities in Australia. 

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol consumption and misuse among women are alarmingly increasing. Additionally, they say that women are put at a higher risk when it comes to health issues related to drinking. A woman's blood alcohol concentration tends to be higher than men's since they generally weigh less and contain less water in the body to absorb the alcohol, the institute says. 

What is Drunkorexia and its Health Effects

Researchers at the University of South Australia also studied the harmful effects of drinking patterns of 479 female university students aged between 18 to 24 in Australia concerning drunkorexia. Drunkorexia is a term used to describe eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia in conjunction with alcohol abuse.  

The researchers were shocked with concern when they found that at least 82.7 percent of the surveyed female university students had been involved in drunkorexic behaviors over the past three months. 

Additionally, more than 28 percent of the students were routinely skipping meals on purpose, drinking sugar-free or low-calorie beverages, exercising and purging after their drinking episodes in hopes of not gaining weight, at least 25 percent of the time, their findings suggest. 

Alycia Powell-Jones, a clinical psychologist and the lead UniSA researcher, said that the predominance of drunkorexic conduct among young Australian women is very concerning. She adds that since young women are at a stage of their life where they are more likely to take part in risk-taking behaviors, they are indeed more likely to drink excessive alcohol.

Moreover, Powell-Jones says that too much alcohol in the system combined with restricted and muddled eating patterns can immensely damage one's health. It could lead to severe psychological consequences such as blackouts, depression, cognitive deficiencies, and memory lapses. Furthermore, physical damages and conditions such as liver cirrhosis, hypoglycemia, brain and heart damages, as well as nutritional deficits could arise, she adds.

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Drunkorexia: Destructive Coping Strategy For Young Women

The study was done in two stages. The first stage measured the predominance of self-reported and restrictive activities concerning the students' alcohol intake. In contrast, the second stage identified the participants' Early Maladaptive Schemas (EMS) or thought patterns. 

The researchers found that the subgroups of schemas most indicative of drunkorexia were social isolation, insufficient self-control, and emotional deprivation. Powell-Jones says early identification and detection of maladaptive schemas related to drunkorexia is vital to understanding the harmful condition.

Two social norms in adolescents are the motivation behind drunkorexic behaviors: the pressure of maintaining a slim body figure and consuming alcohol to fit in.

The researchers stress the importance of making parents, friends, educators, and healthcare providers aware of the factors that bring these young women to partake in such harmful behaviors. They add that by being connected, concerned parties, and even researchers studying the same field can form proper clinical interventions and provide support for the young people susceptible to drunkorexia.

Also Read: Giving Up Alcohol For A Month Has Lasting Benefits