What Is Alcohorexia?

Alcohorexia is an eating disorder that affects millions of young people around the world. Unfortunately, it has many complications.
What Is Alcohorexia?

Last update: 31 December, 2022

Eating disorders are a serious health problem worldwide. Sometimes these behavioral problems are often accompanied by unhealthy habits with serious long-term consequences. Are you interested in knowing what alcohorexia is? Keep reading and we’ll tell you.

Alcohorexia is also called drunkorexia. This is an unspecified eating disorder (ASDN) associated with alcoholism. Studies estimate a prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse in people with eating disorders of around 50%.

In general, alcohorexia affects women 3 times more than men, being more frequent in young people and in university students. Friends and family are usually the ones who detect the symptoms of this condition in most cases.

What is alcohorexia?

Alcohorexia is an eating disorder characterized by the progressive suppression of food intake, replacing it with alcoholic beverages. People with this behavior aim to reduce caloric intake and, consequently, lose weight.

It’s common to avoid consuming any type of food for hours or even days before drinking alcohol. In addition, this eating disorder is often accompanied by symptoms of anorexia or bulimia. This will cause a greater deficit of nutrients, as well as a greater risk of metabolic and systemic complications.

Affected people often engage in excessive physical activity to compensate for alcohol consumption and to stop gaining weight. Likewise, they’re knowledgeable about the detailed caloric content of each drink.


The classic symptom shared by all people with this condition is a distortion of their body image. There’s an intense concern about maintaining weight and a feeling of guilt after eating.

Similarly, it’s common to observe the following behavior for at least 1 to 3 months:

  • Restrictive diets
  • Skipping meals or reducing portions
  • Excessive and frequent consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • Maintaining continuous fasting prior to alcohol intake
  • Binge eating compensated by exercise, laxatives, or self-induced vomiting.
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Hair loss
  • Feeling of tiredness and fatigue
Alcohorexia is not the same as alcoholism.
 Alcohorexia is not the same as chronic alcoholism. The key to the difference is in the perception of body image.

Causes of alcohorexia

Alcohorexia is an eating disorder that can be caused by many factors. The main cause of this behavior is the obsessive need to lose weight and comply with stereotypes of beauty and thinness. In fact, this is why it’s so closely associated with bulimia.

In the same way, this condition can develop as a defense mechanism in people who suffer from depression, insecurity and low self-esteem. In some cases, it can also be the result of traumatic processes, such as the death of a family member or physical or sexual abuse.

Some research suggests that more than a third of bulimia patients turn to alcohol as a method to slow or prevent binge eating and manage depression. In this sense, there’s a clear dissatisfaction with their bodies.


The main risks of alcoholxia are associated with long-term nutrient, vitamin and mineral deficiencies. In these cases, the brain is one of the organs most affected by deprivation.

Similarly, it is possible to develop the following complications:

  • Memory impairment
  • Alcohol-Induced Organic Mental Disorders
  • Fatty liver and cirrhosis
  • Chronic tiredness
  • Arrhythmias
  • Speech disturbance

In general, alcohol consumption is at greater risk when fasting. In addition, this behavior increases the probability of falling into an alcoholic coma and dying.

Treatment of alcohorexia

Treatment for alcohorexia is focused on identifying and addressing the underlying cause of the condition. If the person is drunk, stabilization and detoxification of the body is essential.

In general, specific treatment for alcohol withdrawal should be organized. Similarly, it’s necessary to initiate a multidisciplinary approach with an assessment of mental health. Psychological therapies are of great help in the management of alcohol-related and other eating disorders.

Pharmacological treatments are sometimes recommended to control anxiety, stress, and depression. Recovery is usually slow and progressive, requiring adequate patient attachment. People tend to have a better prognosis and quality of life when the approach is established promptly.

Therapy for alcohorexia.
The area of mental health is recommended to help patients with alcohol.

An eating disorder with serious consequences

Alcohorexia is an unhealthy eating disorder in which large amounts of alcohol are consumed to replace the normal meals of the day. This condition is common in young women, especially within the university environment. In addition, the person doesn’t realize they have the condition and the diagnosis is made by third parties.

For this reason, it’s essential to seek medical help when noticing changes in people’s behavior associated with low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and stress. Psychologists and psychiatric specialists are trained to identify the underlying disorder and offer the best guidance in resolving it.

  • Flores-Fresco María Jesús, Blanco-Gandía María del Carmen, Rodríguez-Arias Marta. Alteraciones de la conducta alimentaria en pacientes con trastorno por abuso de sustancias. Clínica y Salud. 2018;  29( 3 ): 125-132.
  • Behar Rosa. Consumo de alcohol y trastornos de la conducta alimentaria: evidencia, similitudes e implicancias. Rev. chil. neuro-psiquiatr. 2004  Jul;  42( 3 ): 183-194.
  • Muñoz Algar María José, Bernal García Patricia, Poyo Calvo Félix. Detección de trastornos de la conducta alimentaria en una unidad de alcoholismo. Rev. Asoc. Esp. Neuropsiq. 2015  Dic;  35( 128 ): 817-828.
  • Devesa Tamara, Sánchez de Pazos Escribano Almudena. Tratamiento de un caso complejo de alcoholismo y bulimia. Clínica y Salud. 2017;  28( 1 ): 1-8.
  • Méndez Juan Pablo, Vázquez-Velazquez Verónica, García-García Eduardo. Los trastornos de la conducta alimentaria. Bol. Med. Hosp. Infant. Mex. 2008  Dic;  65( 6 ): 579-592.
  • Rodríguez Guarín Maritza. Uso de sustancias, impulsividad y trauma en pacientes con trastornos del comportamiento alimentario: una tríada de riesgo para comorbilidades complejas que afectan el pronóstico. rev.colomb.psiquiatr. 2009  Sep;  38( 3 ): 420-432.

Este texto se ofrece únicamente con propósitos informativos y no reemplaza la consulta con un profesional. Ante dudas, consulta a tu especialista.