By Tracy Steel
Fellow moms, I came across a term in my social media newsfeed that makes my heart hurt: drunkorexia. If you have not seen the articles circulating about drunkorexia, here is an excerpt from one of them:
“The term ‘drunkorexia’ has been used for several years to describe a particularly risky type of behavior on college campuses—students skip meals or exercise intensely before drinking, or deliberately purge during or afterward. Generally, the idea is to cut down on calories consumed or to increase the buzz, and sometimes a little of both. A new study, however, suggests that the practice is far more common than thought, reports Inside Higher Ed. The University of Houston survey rounded up nearly 1,200 students who had at least one bout of heavy drinking in the previous month and found that 8 in 10 had engaged in at least one behavior linked to drunkorexia, including inducing vomiting, consuming laxatives, or skipping food entirely before drinking…”[i]
I realize most of you have teenage daughters. But look at what the following graph shows. This is from 2014 and depicts the binge drinking rates of 12-20 year-olds:[ii]
Shocking isn’t it? Add to this the statistics on teens and eating disorders. ANRED is reporting that “1 out of every 100 adolescent girls has anorexia” and “4 out of every 100 college age females struggle with bulimia.”[i] Drunkorexia habits and practices may not magically begin once a young girl enters college. Especially if she is already binge drinking or struggling with eating disorder behaviors in Jr. High or High School.
So what can we do?
Let me start by saying what I don’t want you to do: freak out and never allow your daughter out of your sight. After reading about issues like this one, I seriously consider telling my husband our daughter is no longer able to leave our house, for like forever. But is this feasible? No, of course not. Plus, I am pretty sure Jesus came to set us free from living a life of fear, asking us to lay whatever burdens us at His feet. This includes our precious daughters and their futures. So what can we do as we consider issues like drunkorexia?
Pray for college aged students before you click out of this post. Pray for your own daughter to feel loved and secure in Christ. Pray for Godly friends and influences to surround her. Ask the Holy Spirit to protect her from temptation and to give her the strength to stand up to peer pressure.
~Be informed and ask questions.
Educate yourself and know the warning signs of eating disorder behavior. If you suspect your daughter is struggling with one, seek help from a Christian Counselor or Pastor. Do not stay silent.
Be aware of what is trending on college campuses. Talk openly and honestly with you daughter about what she may encounter there. How does she plan to deal with peer pressure? Other questions to consider: what are your boundaries/beliefs about alcohol use? Have you shared them with her? What does your daughter think of drinking/drunken behavior? Does she understand the effects of drinking alcohol and restricting calories has on her body?
How does your daughter view her own body? Does she understand God’s opinion of her/her body? Is she content and excited about her future or worried and anxious about it?
Fellow moms, one day our daughter will pick out a comforter for her new dorm room bed. Pursue your daughter. Fill her emotional tank with your affection and with as much Biblical truth as you can. Trust your Heavenly Father as you unpack her dorm room and drive away.
Thankfully, college officials notice that drunkorexia is a problem. Some are banning the sale of hard liquor on campus. Banning is a band aid. Jesus Christ, however, continues to be the cure for anything and everyone. May we continue to be a group of moms who cling to Him, proclaiming His name. We may not be able to change the current situations impacting precious lives on college campuses, but we are raising a possible future college graduate who may be able to do so.