Long Term Recovery from an Eating Disorder - Chronic Nature of Eating Disorders Explored


Cooper City, FL -- (SBWIRE) -- 04/30/2013 -- Article explores the chronic nature of eating disorders and the need for ongoing support to establish a foothold in recovery and maintain a remission from them.

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Given the assumption most eating disorders are inherently chronic, lifelong illnesses characterized by either short or long-term periods of remission, we need to consider what affords the best chance for sustaining recovery. A statement from the American Society of Addiction Medicine published in 2012 goes on to say: “Like other chronic diseases, addiction [I will include eating disorders here] involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.”

To be clear, most physicians, health professionals, and the public at large would have little problem accepting an insulin dependent [Type I] diabetic’s need to follow a daily routine to fend off the consequences of their disease. Likewise, looking at any number of chronic diseases, there seems to be an element of ongoing treatment or self-care that is necessary to hold the disease in check or prevent further deterioration. Unfortunately when it comes to the disease of addiction, accepting this reality is illusive. In fact, the “symptom” of denial or rationalization is so prominent as to convince someone that “coasting on yesterday’s treatment” is sufficient to ward off relapse. Not long after is someone deluded into believing they are “cured” or no longer need to rely on anything other than self will to sustain recovery. More often than not, experience reveals nothing could be further from the truth. Usually the only unknown is when, and not if, relapse will follow.

Although not the only format for ongoing support and recovery, the basic tenets of 12-Step Programs appear to offer the greatest opportunity for those suffering with an addictive illness for long-term, if not life long recovery. Although some may benefit from the professional resources available outside of these groups, all 12-Step groups provide a “prescription,” if you will, for eliminating the self-destructive substances or behaviors hijacking the addict’s life. Beyond the “1st Step” of these programs, the suggestions outlined in the remaining 11 steps are identical. The differences among the programs rest within those attending specific fellowships such as Overeaters Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, and so forth. It might be worth noting many people who suffer with an eating disorder also suffer with related addictions such as alcohol dependency, drug addiction, compulsive gambling, etc. As such, attendance at different fellowships is not so unusual today as we begin to recognize addiction as a disease with similar characteristics having to do with the nature of the person rather than the properties of a specific substance or behavior.

Specific to eating disorders, Overeaters Anonymous and Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous are among the most attended support groups offering fellowship and on-going support for those with an eating disorder. Each of these programs is self-supporting and does not charge dues or a fee for membership or attendance at meetings. Each has literature available to outline the experiences, suggestions, and “steps” that are the foundation of their respective programs. Each also list resources and websites that link people to online meetings, schedules and locations of local meetings, and a variety of other materials related to eating disorder recovery.

There are several slogans, sayings and “catch phrases” that have circulated within 12-Step recovery programs. However, those encouraging people to practice H.O.W. – Honesty, Open Mindedness, and Willingness, and to avoid the tendency to prejudge due to – “Contempt prior to Investigation” – are essential to those new to a 12-Step Fellowship.

In the end, the purpose of any 12-Step fellowship and program is not to replace professional treatment when needed, but serve as a consistent long-term support network. Most members of these groups find regular attendance at meetings in conjunction with “working the steps and helping others” as indispensible to their recovery. If asked, they would likely explain their consistent participation is not a “sentence” but rather a “reprieve” from the tyranny of an eating disorder, albeit “one day at a time”.

In addition to 12-Step groups, Milestones In Recovery offers teleconference support group on a bi- monthly basis as well as local support groups at the facility. The teleconference meetings and support groups are open to anyone wishing to participate. For details as to the call in number and schedule of meetings you may contact the facility at 800-347-2364 or email mlerner@MilestonesProgram.Org

About Milestones Programs
Milestones Programs are intended for adults seeking treatment for an eating disorder. Our facility and program is fully accredited by the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) and licensed by the respective agencies in the State of Florida to provide residential and outpatient services.

Marty Lerner, Ph.D.

Milestones in Recovery
2525 Embassy Drive South
Cooper City, FL 33026
800.347.2364 Toll Free