Healing eating disorders and substance use disorders

Research has shown that up to half of people with eating disorders also abuse alcohol or drugs. It’s possible for substance abuse to start before, during or after developing an eating disorder. Substance abuse can make recovering from an eating disorder more difficult.

At Melrose Center, we know how common it is for someone to struggle with both conditions. We also know that treating both conditions sets people up for a more successful recovery. That’s why we have a team of medical doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, dietitians and other staff trained in treating both eating disorders and substance use disorders. We’re here to help you improve your relationship with food, maintain sobriety and live your life to the fullest.

What is a substance use disorder?

A substance use disorder is a mental health condition that makes someone unable to control their use of various substances. It’s possible to become addicted to legal and illegal substances, including alcohol, prescription medications, marijuana and other drugs.

Someone with a substance use disorder might know that using substances can lead to health problems, but is unable to stop using them. People usually need help from experts to overcome their addiction and learn how to stay sober.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, people with an eating disorder are five times more likely to deal with addiction issues. We’re not sure why those with an eating disorder are at a higher risk of developing substance use disorders, but we do know both conditions share common risk factors. These factors include family history of mental health conditions, low self-esteem and conditions like anxiety or depression.

Diagnosing an eating disorder

If you think you could have an eating disorder, the first step is to make an appointment for an initial assessment at Melrose Center. During this appointment, you’ll see one of our licensed psychologists and/or a primary care clinician. We’ll ask you about your medical history, symptoms, substance use issues, concerns and answer your questions.

By the end of the appointment, we’ll be able to determine if you have an eating disorder. If you’re diagnosed with an eating disorder, you’ll meet with one of our care managers. They’ll help you schedule your next appointments, answer your questions about your treatment options and provide any additional resources you need.

Treating eating disorders and substance use disorder

Our team will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan that addresses both your eating disorder and substance use disorder. Treatment plans commonly include:

Individualized care

Individualized care is exactly what it sounds like. You’ll meet one-on-one with a core team of specialists that may include a medical doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, dietitian and others. It’s common to have weekly appointments, but we’ll work with you to determine how often you’ll see your team. During these appointments, we’ll work toward individual milestones and address specific concerns, roadblocks and questions about your healing process.

Group programs

We also offer group sessions where you can connect with other people who are recovering from eating disorders and substance use disorders. Here you’ll practice healthy emotional expression, learn essential skills from recovery and find encouragement and supportive feedback from staff and peers. Group programing includes supervised meals and snacks, addiction education, relapse prevention programs, trauma-informed group care and other activities.

Group sessions are available for people taking their first steps toward recovery, as well as those who have been able to maintain sobriety.  

Intensive outpatient treatment

Our intensive outpatient program works with individuals to learn new behaviors and develop skills that support their recovery. This program provides treatment focused on supporting patients as they transition skills they’ve learned to their real life situations. The intensive outpatient treatment program typically includes:

  • Three hours of group programming twice a week
  • Weekly visits with a medical doctor
  • Weekly one-on-one therapy sessions
Relapse prevention

We offer ongoing support to help prevent people with established sobriety from relapsing. You’ll join a group of people going through similar experiences to learn recovery skills, talk about your concerns, eat guided meals and other activities.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

No, you don’t need a referral to make an appointment. You can call 952-993-6200 to schedule your first appointment.

Yes, you need to register for group sessions in advance. You can register and get information about upcoming sessions by calling 952-993-6200.

We accept most health insurance plans, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CIGNA, HealthPartners, Medica, Medicare, PreferredOne and many others.

Our onsite financial counselors can work with you to confirm your insurance coverage at Melrose Center. You can speak to one of our dedicated financial counselors by calling 952-993-3453.