Why Eating Disorder Training Matters

September 19, 2019

Upstate New York Eating Disorder Service CEO Carolyn Hodges-Chaffee, founder of one of the first eating disorder clinics in the upstate region, conducted a 60-minute training for Tully Hill clinical and medical staff on the co-occurrence of substance use and eating disorders on September 19, 2019.

Hodges-Chaffee’s training set three goals for Tully Hill staff:

  • To identify individuals struggling with and/or at risk for developing an eating disorder
  • To understand the importance of nutritional support in enhancing recovery in substance abuse treatment
  • To identify how to enhance treatment and meet the needs of patients with these co-occurring disorders

Her training provided staff with some key statistics, from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, related to the co-occurrence of substance use and eating disorders:

  • Up to half of all women with eating disorders abuse substances
  • Between 12%-18% of individuals with anorexia and 30%-70% with bulimia abuse tobacco, alcohol, pills or over-the-counter substances
  • The adolescent years are when women are at greatest risk of eating disorders, these are precisely the years when they are at greatest risk of substance abuse
Eating Disorder Team
Left: Carolyn Hodges Chaffee, CEO Center: Jess Planer, Registered Dietitian Right: Kim Kettel, Marketer

Besides emphasizing the many similar characteristics prevalent with substance use and eating disorders, Hodges-Chaffee also observed how the two disorders do have differences providers need to be aware of when dealing with patients with the co-occurring illnesses.  These variances include how tolerance can occur with substance abuse but doesn’t do so with food intake, and how abstinence is key for substance abuse but how abstinence for bulimics can lead to feelings of deprivation and loss of control. 

Started over 20 years ago, Hodges-Chaffee’s organization is home to the Nutrition Clinic, an outpatient program committed to helping eating disorder patients make permanent, healthy lifestyle changes.  The Eating Disorder Service also encompasses the Sol Stone Center, a nationally recognized partial hospitalization program (PHP) that specializes in treating people who have been unresponsive to outpatient care and/or those discharged from Inpatient or residential settings needing a PHP level of treatment and care.

The Service now serves over 400 patients a year and includes intensive outpatient programs in Elmira, Syracuse, Ithaca, and Binghamton.  The Service’s group-based programs include group psychotherapy, art therapy, Yoga, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and supervised eating.



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