Christine Dennstedt


The Interplay of Substance Misuse and Disordered Eating Practices in the Lives of Young Women: Implications for Narrative Therapeutic Practice

The majority of studies pertaining to substance misuse and eating disorders are dominated by concurrent disorders research. Within that framework, traditional medical, psychological, biochemical models, and the disease model of addiction prevail. Studies that consult young women about their ideas and knowledge for how to best address these problems in therapy are relatively rare within these fields. Using a narrative approach to therapy, I explore the interplay between these problems, and the ways in which disordered eating practices and substance misuse problems can “feed off of each other,” thereby keeping young women ensnared in their grips. Twelve young women (insiders) who attended a residential substance misuse program were interviewed about their personal experience with substance misuse and disordered eating practices in an attempt to explore and identify ways in which helpers and young women can use these similarities to their advantage. Using case examples from 12 semi-structured interview conversations, I demonstrate the merits of co-research practices, and detail the practical and therapeutic applications of a narrative therapeutic approach when working with young women struggling with these problems.