Bulimia nervosa and alcohol dependence. A case report of a patient enrolled in a randomized controlled clinical trial

J Subst Abuse Treat. 1999 Jul-Sep;17(1-2):163-6. doi: 10.1016/s0740-5472(98)00061-0.


Bulimia nervosa and alcohol use disorders frequently co-occur. A review of the literature, however, reveals a paucity of information on treatment of patients with these comorbid conditions. We present a case report of a 34-year-old Caucasian female with a 20-year history of bulimia nervosa with co-occurring alcohol dependence, who participated in a randomized placebo-controlled medication augmentation trial for bulimia nervosa. The patient served as a pilot subject who met the exclusionary criterion of alcohol dependence, but received all the assessment and intervention procedures of the clinical trial for bulimia nervosa. Despite double-blind random assignment to a placebo condition, the patient's symptoms of bulimia nervosa substantially improved over the course of the 5-week efficacy trial. We hypothesize that this improvement was due to concurrent abstinence from alcohol rather than a placebo effect.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / complications*
  • Alcoholism / therapy*
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / administration & dosage
  • Bulimia / complications*
  • Bulimia / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Female
  • Fluoxetine / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Fluoxetine