Have you heard of 'drunkorexia'? Yes it's an actual thing.
An actual thing with a really f*cking stupid name, admittedly.
It's a newly termed eating disorder utilised by students who don't eat so they can 'save' themselves for alcohol. In young men the saving is financial, they don't spend money on food, so they can go out drinking instead. For young women the saving is on calories. They don't want to waste their daily calorific intake on food when it can be used on alcohol - with the added bonus that drinking on an empty stomach means getting drunk faster.
But so what? It's hardly news that students like to drink and are broke. What is with this seeming obsession to label everything? Why should we care? Surely they'll graduate and grow out of it like everyone else?
Because it's irreversibly damaging them. Quickly.
Because drinking and starving a body at the same time skips all of the years of alcohol abuse and plunges a body straight into end-stage alcoholism.
Because a malnourished body is prone to seizures whilst drinking even seemingly 'normal";amounts. Black-outs during drinking are standard and brain damage is caused.
Drunkorexia is frighteningly common, deemed as totally acceptable within university life and is hurting our young adults. Badly. Today, right now. Adults too young to know themselves yet. Too far from home to ask for help. Too worried about peer pressure to say no to something they know is doing them harm.
It's also a really stupid name that no young person is going to take seriously enough to get help for-we really need to sort that out too actually.
There are many sad things about drunkorexia. The fact that parents aren't seeing it as a legitimate problem. The lack of external physical bodily symptoms (because whilst a girl using drunkoerexia as a dieting technique will lose weight, the bloating caused by alcohol abuse will negate any outward appearance of actual weight loss).
There are signs to look out for in drunkorexia:
Premature facial ageing
Bloating in face and body
A marked fall in exam results
The last one might seem vaguely ridiculous. Most parents would pass this off as a result of hangovers preventing a student attending lectures. Sadly it's not.
It's brain damage.
That's what happens when a still-developing brain is overexposed to alcohol and malnutrition. Cognitive function is permanently affected.
So yes, drunkorexia is a really stupid name. But it is a real thing. And is it hurting and killing students. It is not normal. It is not okay. And it is something we need to start talking to young people about.
Now because we are about to start the run-up to the biggest drinking season of the year. Now because students will be home for the longest time you will get them for the rest of the year so you can actually observe their drinking and behaviour properly and see for yourself if your child is in danger or not. Now because drunkorexia is damaging young bodies so fast that next year might just be too late.
Now because we did this. We created a society full of young adults who do not know that this behaviour is abnormal. Because we mistakenly believe alcohol abuse is a right of passage. A badge of honour. a legitimate phase.
And our young adults are paying the price of our mistakes.