How far would people go to prevent the notorious “Freshman Fifteen?” What if it allowed them to enjoy the social scene of parties and alcohol without worrying about the after effects of the calories in alcoholic beverages?

This is the spark behind a new eating disorder phenomenon—drunkorexia.

Popular among both male and female college students throughout the United States, drunkorexia “refers to the condition of binge drinking combined with the typical self-imposed starvation seen with anorexia nervosa,” according to Medterms’ website.

Copy: this didn't have a caption in the paper. (JESUS PICHARDO / THE STATESMAN)
The eating disorder drunkorexia involves binge drinking and self-imposed starvation. (JESUS PICHARDO / THE STATESMAN)

“It has also been used to refer to individuals who use purging (as seen with bulimia nervosa) to try to reduce caloric intake to offset the calories consumed in alcohol,” according to MedicineNet.com.

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While drunkorexia is not an official medical term and instead a name coined recently, the disease has similar qualities associated with more commonly known eating disorders.

These are anorexia nervosa, where sufferers starve themselves, and bulimia nervosa, where sufferers purge what they have eaten.

In essence, college students with the disorder are replacing the daily recommended caloric intake from food with alcohol instead. The goal is to be able to drink alcoholic beverages socially without any repercussions in terms of weight gain.

“Recent studies show 30 percent of women between 18 and 23 have skipped a meal in order to drink more. Sixteen percent do it on a regular basis,” according to Dr. Dale Archer in a recent article on Psychology Today titled “Drunkorexia.”

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The drinking culture continues to have a large role in college life, including on the Stony Brook University’s campus.

Most modeling campaigns or reality shows portray women  and men with the “ideal” thin body figures or “party girl” images.

And diet trends, extreme fitness regimens and weight loss supplements are on the rise as college-aged students are tainted by the myth of how inevitable weight gain is during the school year.

While it may seem like an easy solution to keeping off the weight during the term.

The health risks fail to outweigh the benefits that high levels of alcohol intake without food have on the body’s system.

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Dangerous risks occur when drinking on an empty stomach.

In an article by The Huffington Post and the University Health Services at the University of Texas, Victoria Osborne, assistant professor of social work and public health said the risks include getting intoxicated faster, reducing self-control and short and long-term cognitive problems.

When asked if there are any cases similar to drunkorexia on campus, a representative from Counseling and Psychological Services said she has never heard of the phenomenon and redirected us to Center for Prevention and Outreach.

CPO did not return a phone call asking for a comment on the trend.

The Statesman was unable to detect any cases of drunkorexia at Stony Brook University.

Many students interviewed did not know about the phenomenon or were familiar with anyone affected by the repercussions of the combination of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa with binge drinking.

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It is unclear if no cases of drunkorexia were reported at Stony Brook University because none exist, or because by privacy laws, the school is unable to disclose such information. Possibly, there is a lack of awareness about the phenomenon.

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