Co-Occurring Disorders

Eating Disorder and Addiction Treatment

Crossroads has established itself as a leader in the treatment of addiction and behavioral health since opening its doors in 1974. Throughout this time, there has been an increasing number of women in Maine not only struggling with substance use disorders, but also eating disorders. According to the Academy for Eating Disorders, 50% of people with eating disorders also have a substance use disorder.

Both addiction and eating disorders are complex conditions; there is not a single cause or solution. This can make it challenging for women and their families to find effective ways of managing these issues and begin a healthy path to recovery. Engaging in a fully integrated treatment program that addresses the intricacies of how these disorders impact one another and allows women to explore the challenges they face and find what works best for their needs is essential.

Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Today’s society has a preoccupation with appearance and weight, which can make identifying eating disorders more difficult. It can be easy to dismiss symptoms as a woman just trying to look or feel healthier or keep up with the latest fads. But eating disorders run much deeper. Early detection can support women in getting the help they need for eating disorder recovery and learning to love their bodies. Depending on the type of eating disorder, symptoms can vary:

  • Excessive dieting, excessive overeating, or a combination of overeating and then purging.
  • Extremely focused on diet, weight, exercise, or appearance.
  • Refuses to eat certain foods or food groups.
  • Avoidance of specific food textures or colors; increasingly picky about eating.
  • Frequently tries new diets.
  • Avoids eating around others or only takes very small portions.
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom after eating.
  • Fear of choking or vomiting when eating.
  • Poor dental health from purging.
  • Dizziness upon standing.
  • Constantly feels cold.
  • Noticeable changes in weight; unable to maintain a healthy weight for body type.

These are just a few of the symptoms associated with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, otherwise specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED), and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID).

Eating Disorders and Co-Occurring Addictions

It is not unusual for women with eating disorders to also struggle with other conditions such anxiety, depression, or substance use disorders. They may use drugs or alcohol as way to try to control their weight, feel less self-conscious about their appearance, or cope with other challenges they’re facing. Emotional pressure from peers or society to look a certain way may play a role too.

This can turn into a destructive cycle and take a serious toll on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. However, there is help available to empower women to be who they always wanted and dreamed they could be while building healthier relationships and routines in recovery. Women learn to appreciate themselves and their bodies, develop a positive relationship with food, and overcome reliance on drugs or alcohol through an individualized inpatient eating disorder treatment program.

Treating Co-Occurring Eating Disorders and Addiction at Crossroads

Crossroads employs a fully integrated model of care that addresses both eating disorders and addiction together throughout every step of treatment. The treatment team is a combination of eating disorder and addiction specialists who collaborate to develop an effective plan for each woman that addresses her unique needs. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach because no two women or situations are the same.

Both addiction and eating disorders are chronic diseases that can result in high relapse rates without proper treatment. This means creating a space where women can engage in therapy and programs that enhance their understanding of how these two conditions affect one another and their recovery. It means treating women as a whole and not just focusing on symptoms, but addressing underlying issues and supporting physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual healing.

What Sets Crossroads Apart in Residential Treatment for Eating Disorders and Co-Occurring Addictions

Instead of treating each condition separately – which can actually make some symptoms worse and increase risk of relapse – Crossroads provides comprehensive care addressing both areas of need while also promoting improved mental health. This is one of the biggest factors that sets the facility apart: it is not strictly an eating disorder rehab or an addiction rehab, it’s both, and it’s one of the only facilities of its kind in the state of Maine and in New England as a whole.

The program is a 30-day residential treatment program that immerses women in a safe, structured, therapeutic environment to begin their recovery from eating disorders and addiction. It is an intimate 8-bed program that is ideal for women who need the comfort and support of a structured program that has professional onsite staff 24/7.

Some other notable features include:

  • A safe, secure, homelike setting where women can feel more relaxed and comfortable while in treatment. It has all of the amenities of home and is set in a serene environment.
  • Crossroads offers treatment for women, by women. The care team is spearheaded by women who understand the unique challenges females face when it comes to addiction and eating disorders and know that the strategies used for men may not be as effective.
  • The residential treatment program is for women only and offers gender-responsive care. Clients can build stronger connections and feel more comfortable opening up when surrounded by peers who understand first-hand what they are going through.

Crossroads embraces a multidisciplinary approach to eating disorder treatment and substance use disorders that brings together professionals from throughout the industry. For instance, once a client is admitted, they meet with a registered dietitian for a nutritional assessment and development of a personalized meal plan, this information is then shared with the whole team so everyone is working together to support the client in meeting her goals.

Each day is carefully structured to address women’s diverse needs in recovery and allows time to meet with master level clinicians, a registered nurse (RN), a dietitian, a family clinician, and other support staff during individual and group sessions. To ensure the client’s medication needs are being met, there is also a nurse practitioner on the team to manage any prescribing needs.

The integration of exposure-based therapies can help women to confront their relationship with their body and learn to effectively manage the anxiety they may feel about eating certain foods, eating in front of others, or adhering to a healthy meal plan. They receive 24/7 support and guidance in navigating challenging situations and developing effective coping strategies.

At the same time, part of their day may be spent talking about triggers, both for substance use and binge eating for example. Many of the strategies that are used to treat addiction are the same ones used to treat eating disorders, so there is a lot of overlap and value in providing fully integrated treatment. Women are engaged in a variety of evidence-based treatment modalities including:

  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Medical nutritional therapy
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Mindfulness-based relapse prevention
  • Seeking Safety
  • Healing Trauma
  • A Women’s Way Through the 12 Steps

Plus, there are expressive and complementary therapies incorporated as well for a more well-rounded program that offers comprehensive care. Equine therapy can be incredibly therapeutic in working through challenges and building relationships, and women are also involved with art therapy as another avenue for expressing themselves. While yoga may not typically be seen as an activity for someone in treatment for eating disorders, instead of the focus being on calorie-burning, it is on whole-body healing, stress reduction, and the mind-body connection as women begin to feel more comfortable in their own bodies again and establish a healthier relationship with fitness.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment for Eating Disorders

In addition to the residential treatment program, Crossroads also offers an intensive outpatient treatment program for eating disorders. This program is ideal for women who are medically stable but still require clinical support and structure to maintain the gains they have achieved in a higher level of care such as a residential program. Groups meet three days per week for three hours per day and work closely with master level clinicians and dietitians.

Just like the residential program, it provides women with the support they need for managing eating disorders in a structured manner. They engage in medical nutritional therapy as well as group sessions using DBT, CBT, and ACT approaches. They are able to continue building bonds with other women in the program in a safe space where they can explore any obstacles they have faced and celebrate achievements.

To help women build their confidence and healthy relationship with food, they are asked to prepare and bring their own lunch to eat with the group. The clinician and dietician will review their meal and ensure that it aligns with their individual needs and meal plan, and they eat together and discuss ongoing recovery strategies.

Bringing Families Together to Support Addiction and Eating Disorder Recovery

There is also a family education aspect to residential and IOP treatment that gets the whole family involved in supporting recovery and creating a safe environment. Addiction and eating disorders affect everyone’s lives, so working together to address challenges, increase understanding, and build healthy routines is essential. Family therapy allows loved ones to explore how these conditions have impacted their lives, how to overcome challenges, and how they can play an integral role in the recovery process.

Crossroads prides itself on creating an engaging, therapeutic, and comfortable environment for women to engage in treatment for eating disorders and addiction. Women receive the support they need to realize the seriousness of these issues and make their well-being a priority. With treatment for women, by women, they can feel more confident that the program will be tailored to fit their unique needs and the challenges they face when dealing with these issues in their lives. Crossroads offers a truly integrated approach to treatment in Maine that is unlike any other program in the country. Women can grow, heal, and become whole in their own time and build the strategies and skills they need for lasting recovery, so they can embrace all that the future has to offer.

Learn more about how you or your loved one can get involved with these life-changing services by contacting Crossroads Scarborough Maine today.
(207) 773-9931
Thank You

This was definitely a life changing experience. The staff was wonderful and I am leaving here sober, happy and healthy. I thank everyone for their love and care.”
– Back Cove Women’s Residential Program Client

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