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The Story of Betty, Substance Abuse and Binge Eating

January 6th, 2013 by Vilma Andari

In this installment of patient success stories, we share a new perspective on weight management. This is the story of someone who has struggled with not only weight and body issues, but also substance abuse. Vilma has worked closely with this patient to help improve her body image and healthy food intake, making small steps in the direction toward overall healthier living. Betty is an inspiration for all those struggling to transition into a healthier lifestyle for life–though major change can be hard, long-lasting improvements can be accomplished through incremental and achievable steps.

Name of Client: Betty
Age: 34
Ethnicity: Caucasian
City: SF Bay Area
NHF Services: Mental Wellness

Problem Treating: Poor body image, eating disorders, obesity [BMI= ~ 38]

Major Issues:
• Addictive personality.
• Dependence on more than one chemical substance.

Sub Issues:
• Binge eating.
• Poor body image.
• Low self-esteem.

Betty is a ‘recovering’ patient working with Vilma to improve her overall health, wellness and body image. She is recovering not only from her chemical dependency to methamphetamine, alcohol and other drugs, but also from the emotional pain (anger and low-self esteem) that results from her struggles in dealing with her addiction.

This emotional instability has led her to developing an emotional-based eating disorder–binge eating. She is obsessed with wanting to be thin so is skipping meals and exercising strenuously to help her lose weight, only to later binge on high-fat and processed foods.

Dual addictions, such as drugs and food, are not uncommon for individuals with addictive personalities. Often these individuals are trying to escape from some type of ‘emotional pain’ that can develop early in childhood as a result of having had a dysfunctional childhood and/or an emotional, unhealthy parent.

Noteworthy Comments:
Betty is excited to be engaged in a nutrition, health and wellness program and is motivated to change her mental state and perception of her body. She wants to remove the dissatisfaction with herself and her obsession about being thin. She is also motivated because she wants to be a good role model for her two children, especially her nine-year-old daughter who is showing signs of negative body image too.

Betty is learning how not to treat food as a reward for positive behaviors, especially with her two daughters, and is learning to not focus obsessively on her weight. Instead, she is moving towards a healthier eating pattern that will help support a more positive and stable mood. She is trying to be mindful of what she eats and making an effort to incorporate walking into her daily routine.

The patient and her parents are both happy to embark on this healthy journey together, especially because it supports her ongoing participation in the recovery program for alcohol and drug addictions.

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