Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, are infamous for being some of the most complex mental health conditions. Some of those complexities come from the fact that these conditions are often accompanied by one or more co-occurring conditions. For many, substance abuse often begins when an individual is struggling with the symptoms of an eating disorder. Eating disorders can pose a series of terrible effects, and when a co-occurring condition such as substance abuse is introduced, one’s health and wellbeing can deteriorate quickly.
At Carolina House, we are experienced in treating eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, compulsive eating, and binge-eating disorder. We are also trained in providing the correct treatment to those who not only battle an eating disorder, but also co-occurring substance abuse concerns. Therefore, we, at Carolina House, are proud to offer evidence-based therapeutic interventions to those who come to us for care. Through the help we provide, we can assist those who are struggling with disordered eating and substance abuse problems get their lives back on track.
Helping a Loved One or Family Member Get Treatment
When someone has an eating disorder and a co-occurring condition substance abuse concern, it can be incredibly painful for his or her loved ones to watch. With feelings that include fear and frustration, loved ones of someone in this state can easily feel as though nothing they do will help make a difference. If you are the loved one of someone who has an eating disorder and a co-occurring substance abuse problem, it is imperative that you do not lose hope. Keep in mind that there are things that you can be consistently doing to help your loved one get into a better mental and physical state. These things can include the following:
- Help your loved one feel like going to treatment is possible by offering to help with everyday things that he or she would not be able to do while in treatment. In doing this, you are allowing your loved one to feel comfortable about taking the time he or she needs to get better.
- Look into treatment centers both nearby and out-of-state to find programs that can specifically address your loved one’s eating disorder and co-occurring substance abuse problem.
- Educate yourself on eating disorders, including learning what often causes them and what can be done to treat them. Also, do similar research on substance abuse so that you have as much information as possible.
- Be open and honest with your loved one. Let him or her know your concerns, but do so in a manner that is non-threatening. Chances are that your loved one will be defensive, which is why you should be careful in how you approach sharing your worries.
As soon as your loved one has found his or her way into treatment, it is critical that you continue to support him or her as he or she goes through this process. By supporting your loved one, you can help provide him or her with the self-confidence needed to keep going in his or her program.
Why Consider Treatment at Carolina House
An eating disorder is a condition that has the potential to cripple all areas of an individual’s life if it is allowed to continue. When an eating disorder is present, an individual places his or her life at risk because he or she is does not have a good relationship with food. Therefore, a number of physical effects can occur including heart problems, kidney failure, arthritis, broken bones, gastrointestinal issues, and much more. When a co-occurring substance abuse problem accompanies an eating disorder, these symptoms can become exasperated, and new symptoms can develop, too. Substance abuse can bring about suicidal ideation, exposure to blood-borne illnesses, a decreased immune system, the development of cancer, and major organ damage. Both conditions, especially when occurring at the same time, can cause an individual to suffer financial issues, unemployment, homelessness, strained relationships, depression, anxiety, and legal problems. However, if treatment is obtained, these risks can be eliminated and/or decreased significantly.
Types of Treatment Offered at Carolina House
Since 2006, we, at Carolina House, have been devoted to providing world-class, residential care to women who are in need of comprehensive treatment to overcome the symptoms of eating disorders and co-occurring concerns, such as substance abuse. Situated in a serene, wooded setting, Carolina House offers female clients, ages 17 and older, a tranquil environment that is fully conducive to true and lasting healing. We hold ourselves to a standard of excellence in the care we deliver so that all of the women who engage in treatment with us can succeed in discovering a renewed life of wellness.
At Carolina House, we have made it our goal to provide a beautiful, safe, and nurturing environment that is run by highly trained and supportive staff. We use a structured, multifaceted treatment approach that is designed to usher clients successfully into life-long recovery. Our treatment approach also encourages self-exploration towards transformation through self-nurturing expressions of living. This goal and these treatment approaches are met by providing clients with individualized treatment plans that are catered to meet each of their very unique needs. Various aspects that may be incorporated into these treatment plans are described in the following:
Medical care: Clients who are battling an eating disorder often need consistent medical attention to address such concerns as re-feeding issues, complications from starvation, somatic complaints, electrolyte imbalances, and/or gastrointestinal distress. Carolina House provides 24-hour nursing care for all clients, as well as employs a contracted medical doctor, a psychiatrist, and a registered dietician, all of whom are skilled in the treatment of eating disorders. These professionals are able to meet with clients to ensure that their recovery remains on a healthy track.
Re-Feeding: When treating an eating disorder, there is often the need for re-feeding interventions to be made in order to help get clients back on track with proper nutritional intake. At Carolina House, clients are closely involved with the registered dietician, the culinary staff therapist, and the clinical and medical teams so that specialized meal plans can be devised. These meal plans are designed to adequately address the nutritional needs of each client during each stage of treatment. Meals are closely monitored by staff in order to provide the highest level of support as clients reach nutritional stabilization and decrease their participation in the rituals and behaviors that are symptomatic of their eating disorders.
Culinary program: All clients at Carolina House may take part in our culinary program, which offers them full kitchen access throughout their time spent in treatment. Setting us apart from other eating disorder programs throughout the country, participation in this program provides clients with the unique opportunity to experience meal planning, grocery shopping, meal preparation, and a family-style eating environment, all of which work towards building self-confidence as clients make their way through treatment.
Medication management: When individuals are battling symptoms of a co-occurring mental health condition, the use of certain medications may be recommended in order to help alleviate some of their distress. Clients have the opportunity to meet with a psychiatrist once or twice a week in order to determine the need for any medication, as well as to monitor the therapeutic effectiveness of any medication prescribed.
Individual therapy: Clients are provided with one full individual therapy session each week that typically lasts between 45 and 60 minutes. Additionally, clients will meet with their therapists for one or two brief check-in sessions each week, each of which may last anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes. These sessions are designed to provide clients with an opportunity to meet in a private, confidential setting with their therapists so that they can discuss their progress in treatment, process through any setbacks that may have arisen, and celebrate any successes that have occurred.
Family therapy: Recognizing how important family involvement can be in our clients’ successful recovery from an eating disorder and co-occurring substance abuse, the staff at Carolina House frequently incorporates family therapy into our clients’ treatment plans. Family therapy sessions are typically offered on a weekly basis, meeting for an average of 45 to 60 minutes for each session. If deemed appropriate and therapeutically beneficial to clients, additional family sessions may be added on an as needed basis.
Group therapy: When working to overcome an eating disorder and co-occurring substance abuse, group therapy sessions have proven to be incredibly beneficial and effective. Clients typically participate in an average of six group therapy sessions each weekday, four group sessions on Saturdays, and two group sessions on Sundays. These group therapy sessions are typically broken down as follows:
- Two Food and Feeling Groups take place every day. These are short, skills identification groups that occur after every lunch or dinner.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Groups take place three times per week and are facilitated by a licensed clinical social worker who is specially trained in DBT.
- Interpersonal Process Groups occur three times per week and are dually led by a licensed professional counselors and other qualified professionals who have been fully trained in the group modality.
- Two Integrated Health Groups take place each week, including Addictions Education and 12-Step Facilitation. These are led by a licensed clinical addictions specialist and are attended by all clients. Weekly AA and NA meetings are also made available to clients who need them.
- A variety of other groups occur during the week as well, including both process and psychoeducational groups. The topics that are covered during these sessions vary but may include discussions on body image, media awareness, empowerment, relapse prevention, nutrition, and guided self-care, among many others.
Experiential therapy: In order to offer clients a holistic approach to the treatment, Carolina House offers a number of experiential therapy options in addition to the more traditional therapeutic interventions. Examples of these therapies include the following:
- Yoga therapy
- Art therapy
- Culinary Group
- Embodying Recovery (a sensorimotor psychotherapy group)
- Body movement activities
- Strength training
Receiving comprehensive treatment in a residential setting is enormously advantageous for those who are suffering from an eating disorder and co-occurring substance abuse. However, at Carolina House, we recognize that completion of residential treatment does not always mean that clients have finished achieving full recovery from their eating disorders. For this reason, we offer continuing care services through our partial day treatment program and our intensive outpatient program.
Additionally, keeping in mind that recovery is an ongoing process, the staff at Carolina House is dedicated to ensuring that clients have a definitive plan set in place prior to their being discharged. From the time of admission, clients’ primary therapists are assessing their outside resources and determining what services need to be in place in order to support a smooth discharge plan. Typically, the goal will be to step down to a lower level of care slowly so that clients can be fully prepared for increased independence.
If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder and co-occurring substance abuse, the staff at Carolina House wants to help. Our world-class programming can help you overcome the symptoms that plague you, while also assisting you as you develop the confidence needed to embark on a bright and promising future. Do not continue to suffer. Let the staff at Carolina House show you that there’s a better way to live.