On every Thursday night, around 26 UGA students would gather together at the Memorial Hall to attend a recovery meeting. The meeting is held by the Collegiate Recovery Community(CRC), a campus program aims to help students with addictive behaviors.
“We are a student support service for specific students being recovery from alcohol addiction, eating disorders and other addictive behaviors. We’ve been in campus since 2013, and we have around 26 and 28 students,” said Jason Callis, the program manager of CRC.
Like drinking too much or using drugs, food can be a form of self-medication for a deeper, different emotional issue. Doctors view this as eating disorders, the mental conditions characterized by abnormal eating patterns that damage a person’s physical or mental health.
“Instead of treating feelings with helpful things, people sometimes use food, either controlling food or having too much food, to help them feel in a certain way,” said Holly Samples, a nutritionist at the University of Georgia’s health center.
According to the data published by Multi-Service Eating Disorders Association, 20% of college students said they have or previously had had an eating disorder.
Stressful life events, personality disorders, and genetics may contribute to eating disorders in different people, Samples says. Science doesn’t have all the answers.
The best-known eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia. People with anorexia are often preoccupied with an imagined or slight defect in their own appearance, fear gaining weight, and restrict food intake to an unhealthy degree. Those with bulimia nervosa, on the other hand, alternate between binge eating and efforts to undo or compensate for overeating.
Even people who don’t fit these textbook definitions may still have eating disorders that are risky for their health, Samples says. Because these conditions are unlikely to go away on their own, students should seek professional help immediately.
However, private care can be expensive.“In-patient treatment costs thousands of dollar a day. For out-patient, it may cost hundreds of dollars per visit with a psychologist or dietitian,” said Samples.“Very few people can afford it and many insurance plans don’t cover it”
Fortunately, for UGA students, the University Health Center where Samples works is a much more affordable alternative. For example, Samples is part of a multi-disciplinary team that evaluates the cause and severity of eating disorders and works out a treatment plan that might involve talk therapy, dietary counseling, or even medical care. If students consult with Samples about regaining a healthy relationship with food, the first appointment costs $40, and subsequent visits are $20. Some students’ health insurance will cover the costs.
To make an appointment at University Health Center is simple. Students can call the Medical Clinic Green at 706-542-8650 or go to the website of Health Center to make an appointment online. However, it may take some time to make the appointment based on doctor’s schedule.
Also, the CRC offers free support groups each week in room 216 at Memorial Hall.
An general recovery meeting, open to all students concerned about addiction issues, takes place on Thursday at 5: 30 p.m. Students committed to recovery, who must be approved by program manager Jason Callis in advance, meet on Mondays.
“Attending meetings and sharing stories allows students to know each other, to know they are not the only one struggling with certain things,” said Callis. “It provides a sense of community and a sense of hope. ”
Jaye Cora, the student with anorexia, thought the meetings were useless at first but soon found that they were essential. She now leads an Eating Disorders Anonymous meeting every Tuesday at 5 p.m., also in room 216 at Memorial Hall.
“You are not alone. There are lots of students on campus who struggle with it. It’s not something you need to hide or feel shamed of,” said Callis. “Initially asking for help can be difficult, but it is completely worth to taking risk.”
For more information, students can go the website of University Health Center at https://itos.uhs.uga.edu/caps/eating_disorders.html, or call Callis at (706)-542-0285.