Addiction is not a character flaw – it is now recognized as a chronic brain disease with the potential for both recovery and relapse, and we must treat it with the same skill and compassion with which we approach heart disease, diabetes, and cancer (2016 Surgeon General’s Report). It is the most severe manifestation of a substance use disorder (SUD), characterized by significant impairments in health, social function and control over substance use. Similar to other chronic brain diseases, addiction can and should be treated with medications alongside supportive therapy when appropriate.
Moreover, there is compelling evidence of a commonality in the brain pathways responsible for the pleasurable response to food and the core pathways mediating the rewarding properties of drugs such as morphine and heroin. The neurobiological and behavioral similarities between eating disorders and drug addictions provide compelling evidence that eating disorders should be viewed and treated as an addiction.