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Eating Disorders and Substance Use in Adolescents

Int J Eat Disord; ePub 2019 Jan 14; Kirkpatrick, et al

Adolescents with substance use (SU) benefit from eating disorder (ED) outpatient treatment as much as those without SU, however, users are more likely to drop‐out, according to a recent study. Therefore, treatment should target these adolescents' emotional dysregulation to improve treatment compliance. A retrospective chart analysis was conducted to determine and subsequently compare medical status, psychosocial factors, treatment course, and outcome between patients with and without SU. Researchers found:

  • >60% of patients with SU status (n=203) reported regularly consuming substances.
  • 33.4% of substance users received a diagnosis involving purging behaviors compared to 5.9% of nonusers.
  • Users reported significantly more self‐harm (57.7% of users vs 38.6% of nonusers) but did not differ significantly in terms of trauma (abuse or victimization; 48.3% of users vs 44.9% of nonusers).
  • The percentage of ideal body weight significantly improved throughout treatment and did not differ by SU with a mean increase of 5.29% (SD=13.6) among nonusers compared to 5.45% (SD=7.5) of users.
  • While users and nonusers did not differ before and after treatment in ED severity, users were more likely than nonusers to drop‐out of treatment (41.5% of users vs 25.2% of nonusers).

Kirkpatrick R, Booij L, Vance A, et al. Eating disorders and substance use in adolescents: How substance users differ from nonsubstance users in an outpatient eating disorders treatment clinic. [Published online ahead of print January 14, 2019]. Int J Eat Disord. doi:10.1002/eat.23017.