When we think of addiction our minds naturally think of drugs and alcohol, but addiction comes in many forms. To be addicted simply means that you are physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance or action, and unable to stop without incurring adverse effects.
Eating disorders fall under the addiction umbrella. If you think or know that someone is suffering here are some tips from charity Beat (originally posted here).
Tips to addressing someone with an eating disorder:
- Get some help for yourself first by talking to a friend or professional about your concerns
- Prepare what you want to say, and how you’re going to say it
- Choose a place where you both feel safe and won’t be disturbed
- Choose a time when neither of you is angry or upset – avoid any time just before or after meals
- Don’t be disheartened if you’re met with a negative reaction. Understand that the illness affects how someone thinks and can prevent them from being able to truly believe there is anything wrong with them
- Be aware that they’re likely to be feeling guilty, ashamed and very scared
- Be prepared for them to be angry and emotional, or even to say hurtful things
- Don’t label them or attempt to trick them into saying they have an eating disorder
- Use “I” sentences (“I am worried as I’ve noticed you don’t seem happy”) instead of “you” sentences (“you need to get help”)
- If they can acknowledge that they have a problem, offer to help them by going to see their GP with them for example
- Have some information about eating disorders to hand – refer to them if the person is able to talk about it, or leave resources behind for them to look at on their own
- If they are not ready to talk about their problem, reassure them that you’ll be there when they are. Don’t leave it too long before broaching the subject again
- Get young children into treatment. Be persistent and don’t give in or wait until they are ready
Many lose their battles with eating disorders, either through illness or taking their own lives. It’s vital we recognize anorexia and bulimia and do not discriminate based on gender.
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