Drunkorexia is back in the news. That’s when people – mostly women – skip meals to “save” calories, so they can consume their calories as alcohol. And experts say it’s a widespread problem – mostly among women from teens to 40-somethings.

And these days, it seems like alcohol companies are encouraging drunkorexia by marketing some of their beverages as diet products. They’re advertising low-calorie beers, low-carb wines, and skinny cocktails. And perpetuating the idea of drinking a lot, without gaining weight.

But the really dangerous part is: Drunkorexics are 20 percent more likely to binge drink. It's partly because drunkorexics believe they can get drunk without worrying about calories. They also know they'll get drunk faster, since they don't have any food in their system to slow down the absorption of alcohol. But there's another reason drunkorexics binge drink – and it's because their bodies are CRAVING calories – no matter where those calories come from, even alcohol. That's because the brain needs the energy from calories to function properly. But addiction specialist Dr. Carrie Wilkins says that calories from alcohol and food are not interchangeable.

In fact, substituting alcohol for food quickly leads to malnutrition, organ damage and weak bones. And don’t forget the immediate danger. Drunkorexics frequently have blackouts, and are at increased risk for DUIs, sexual assault, and alcohol poisoning. And among anorexics, alcohol abuse is the strongest predictor of an early death.

So, what can be done? Well, the eating disorder needs to be treated simultaneously with the alcohol abuse. Patients need to figure out why they’re avoiding food, and why they’re abusing alcohol. And then learn alternate ways to cope.

If you, or someone you know, has this problem, visit RecoveryConnection.org/Drunkorexia.