People suffering from eating disorders and substance abuse share common causative or risk factors and personality characteristics.
Various studies reveal the possible role of genetics, cultural influences, environmental theories, exposure to trauma, and the role of the brain and attachment as the major factors responsible for the complex association between eating disorders and substance abuse.
Dusty Miller, in her book Women Who Hurt Themselves: A Book of Hope and Understanding, says that both eating disorders and substance abuse represent a trauma reenactment syndrome caused by childhood factors such as trauma, grief, a history of abuse, parental neglect or abandonment, and parents indulging in substance abuse. Other common risk factors include unhealthy peer norms or social behavior.
Both eating disorders and substance abuse are marked by compulsive behavior or an obsessive preoccupation or craving for food or substance. People suffering from these disorders experience mood-altering effects, prefer social isolation, and have low-self esteem, depression, anxiety, or compulsivity.
Both these disorders usually occur in times of transition or stress. Treatment is difficult, often requiring intensive therapy