I have spent some lively hours debating with others on the Facething whether compulsive eating is an addiction; which asks for some reflection on the nature of the term "compulsive".
Then I did two BBC Radio stints on overeating, debating with two people who were relying on Overeaters Anonymous to help with their food addiction. It seemed that both participants had become "addicted" to eating as a way of dealing with different forms of loneliness, at different times in their lives.
There are not many eating disorder experts who buy into the notion that compulsive eating is an addiction although they agree the following;
1 You can sort of become addicted to sugar because it affects the same parts of the brain as the other suspects like drugs and alcohol.
2 Eating disorders share some features with addictions.
3 People who overeat speak in the language of addictions. "I can't carry on with my day until I have had my fix... I can't stop at one.... I can't stop when I have had enough".
On our website blog I have made a very short case in favour of not leaping to the conclusion that overeating, even quite horrible variants of it, is addiction. It doesn't help our patients to consider themselves addicts. There are lots of reasons for overeating, even the most compulsive forms. We can free people from their destructive relationships with food without you needing all the paraphernalia of overeating fellowships like group meetings, endless talking about food, sponsors and a lifetime of thinking of your self as "In Recovery". Thousands of us used to overeat and don't now. We are not "In Recovery." We can help you to stop.
Check out http://eating-disorders.org.uk/emotional-eating-addiction/