We know it is possible to experience complete recovery from an eating disorder because we have seen it again and again. However, with that said, we also recognize it's not unusual for a woman or girl to have multiple slips during the process. A "slip" is a return to unhealthy behaviors that does not last more than a few hours or days. A relapse, on the other hand, is a return to eating disorder behaviors that places the person back where they were prior to entering recovery-where many eating disorder behaviors are being practiced day after day. No one wants a relapse to occur; no one wants to go back to square one. This is why relapse prevention is so important.
Support is key when entering into any recovery process. For those recovering from an eating disorder, three types of support are essential: family, peer and professional. Family support is quite important, especially if the recovering individual is still living with the family. Because eating disorders are complex, family-embedded, and often extremely difficult to understand, family therapy can often help. In terms of friends, peer support must be "recovery friendly." By this we mean that the patient's friends should not be highly invested in dieting, weight management, or appearance concerns. The third type of support - professional - is often the most important of all. At the very least, an individual should have an outpatient therapist and a dietician for support, guidance, and accountability. In addition, if on medication, a psychiatrist should also be part of the team.
Anyone entering recovery must identify their eating disorder triggers. These are the situations and experiences that provoked the eating disorder in the first place. Triggers are highly individualized, meaning that what might trigger one woman may not affect another. It is important not only to identify these triggers, but also to decide in advance with one's treatment team how to deal with each of them using effective coping methods.
If a slip does occur, eating disorder patients can take positive steps to understand the "whys" behind it and what can be done differently in the future to change the outcome. It's called a behavior chain analysis, in which she identifies the links in the chain - the events and her reactions to them - that led to the unhealthy behavior. By examining what happened step by step, then making a new plan for the future, she may not need to rely on her eating disorder the next time she encounters the same situation. Again, professional support in this process greatly increases the chances of success.
Recovery from any addiction is not easy, and an eating disorder is no different. But it can be done. Remember... plan your life around your recovery, not your recovery around your life.
We have treated eating disorders for more than 20 years. We know recovery from an eating disorder is absolutely possible. It's happening every day at Remuda Ranch. Based on feedback from patients, families and professionals, the vast majority of our patients remain committed to a life of health, balance and purpose.
For additional information about the treatment of eating disorders, please call to speak to a Counselor at 866-390-5100 or complete a Take the Next Step form and we will contact you with the information you need.