99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

What do Lady Gaga, Lindsay Lohan and Amy Winehouse have in common?

Fame, fortune and the essence of gossip- sure you could say that, but right now the media is trying drunkorexia on them for size.

While at first a catchy term for online sources with images of “skeletal celebrities who appear to live only off of Grey Goose and cigarettes” (Mohammad) the name has stuck so well that it now gets coined along with similar slang terms like pregorexia and orthorexia as well as serious illnesses such as anorexia and bulimia.

‘Drunkorexia’, as it is referred to, is essentially a form of alcohol abuse whereby an individual restricts food intake as compensation for alcohol consumption. The result: intoxication with much less alcohol and fewer calories consumed by the individual.

There is no doubt that alcohol abuse and eating disorders are often co-occurring and this particular practice combining the two addictions has numerous immediate and long term consequences.

Unsurprisingly, the risks of passing out, becoming dependent on alcohol, and suffering physical or sexual abuse while intoxicated are all increased when the practice of drinking on empty is practiced.

Yes, there’s no reservation when it comes to calling this is a dangerous practice but whether or not its current name is appropriate is the question I have been pondering lately.

Does the term ‘drunkorexia’, with its trendy vibe coupled with the alcohol-infatuated college environment it thrives in, do anything to deter someone from partaking in this?

Would it be far off to suggest that in many instances certain perspectives offered on ‘drunkorexia’ even encourage certain individuals to test the forbidden waters?

I fail to comprehend how taking the name of a serious illness such as anorexia and throwing an ill-chosen prefix on it is a responsible vocabulary decision in any respect.

It has taken a great deal of work for society to fully acknowledge the severity of addiction and mental health disorders, in this case specifically, alcohol abuse and eating disorders. On the whole I find the term "drunkorexia" as a sort of ridicule to the gravity of these illness and all those affected by them.

Essentially this unhealthy behavior is disordered eating and alcohol abuse, so why not call it what it is? From this university student’s perspective, those labels would make the risky activities appear much less attractive, and from a recovered anorexic’s perspective it’s much less offensive.

I think it’s about time to rename this self-destructive behaviour - before it ends up in Webster’s for the long haul.

Mohammad, Susan. "Drunkorexia - Topics - Macleans.ca." Macleans.ca -
Canada News, World News, Politics, Business, Culture, Health, Environment, Education.
Macleans, 2 Oct. 2008. Web. 11 Oct. 2011. <http://www2.macleans.ca/tag/drunkorexia/>.

Nicole Pin is a BASc, Applied Human Nutrition Major at the University of Guelph. She is a passionate advocate for the health and wellbeing of the student population and has been involved with the National Eating Disorders Information Centre in various capacities since 2008.  In the Summer of 2012, Nicole will be a placement student at NEDIC.