DENVER, CO -- (Marketwire) -- 02/20/13 -- Tens of millions of Americans struggle with eating disorders, including a growing population of baby boomers, adolescents and children. For individuals in recovery from these complex illnesses, a frightening reality is the possibility of eating disorders relapse. In fact, a 2005 study in the European Eating Disorders Review found that more than one-third of individuals who have struggled with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa will experience an eating disorders relapse in the first two and a half years after leaving a treatment center.
With National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2013 taking place next week, February 24-March 2, Eating Recovery Center, an international center providing comprehensive treatment for eating disorders, seeks to highlight the skills and support structures that help men, women and children live a life of recovery. Recognizing that the hardest work of recovery often begins upon returning to "real life" following intensive eating disorders treatment, Eating Recovery Center offers these four strategies to help individuals protect their health and avoid eating disorders relapse.
1. Remain actively engaged with the aftercare plan. Discharge planning and the development of a recovery-focused post-treatment strategy are critical in creating sustainable recoveries and preventing relapse. These individualized aftercare plans are created by licensed therapists who work closely with a patient's treatment team to identify emotional, behavioral and situational discharge challenges, and outline personal and recovery-focused goals.
2. Develop a strong supportive network. Friends, family and colleagues who have been educated about eating disorders and understand how to support a loved one in his or her recovery can be very helpful in sustaining recovery. Many individuals find a strong recovery-focused community through the alumni programming offered by many treatment centers. These programs generally provide ongoing education, events and a sense of community to support a life of eating disorders recovery.
3. Identify values and pursue valued life directions. Values not only serve as a compass for people's lives, but also help individuals with eating disorders understand why change is necessary and pursue that change, even when it feels overwhelmingly difficult. Not surprisingly, identifying values and valued life directions are key components of the eating disorders recovery process. Taking time to be in touch with values and align thoughts and actions with valued life directions can help sustain recovery, even in times of stress or challenges.
4. Seek help. Sustainable recoveries do not just happen. Individuals and families in recovery from eating disorders must work diligently to protect and maintain a healthy weight and body image. The need for additional support -- through support groups, outpatient therapy or an intensive treatment program -- does not indicate failure, but rather underscores an ongoing commitment to doing whatever it takes to sustain eating disorders recovery.
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