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Body Dysmorphia and Alcohol Abuse

woman struggles with body dysmorphia

Body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, is a condition in which an individual’s perception of their body or a particular physical feature is severely warped to the point that they become consumed with obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior surrounding their appearance.  People with BDD are far more likely to develop substance use disorder, especially alcohol addiction. Abusing alcohol can worsen the symptoms of BDD and cause ineffective treatment outcomes. In the most severe of cases, co-occurrence of BDD and alcohol use disorder carries an increased risk of suicide.  Treatment for BDD alongside AUD requires a dual diagnosis and an addiction recovery program equipped to assess and treat mental illness.   BDD may present differently for different individuals, but common symptoms include obsessing over a perceived flaw in appearance, frequent mirror checking, constantly seeking reassurance, and social withdrawal.  Individuals with BDD often focus in on one aspect of their physicality that they believe is deformed or defective, and may resort to cosmetic surgery to “fix” their appearance. Drastic measures such as surgery usually only provide temporary symptom relief, after which point the individual will go on to feel unsatisfied with their results or obsess over a new detail of their appearance.   The most common reason people with BDD begin to abuse alcohol is to distract themselves from their insecurities and engage socially without obsessive behavior.  Unfortunately, alcohol tends to exacerbate the symptoms of BDD despite providing some temporary relief. In between use, alcohol abuse can cause symptoms commonly associated with BDD such as anxiety and obsessive thoughts to worsen.  Under the influence of alcohol, the unrealistic thoughts of those suffering with BDD can even prompt some individuals to consider or attempt suicide. Alcohol abuse in people with BDD can be very serious, but quality treatment for mental illness and addiction can have positive results. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, now is the time to reach out for help.  At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  The Arbor uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.