The Doctors: Chalk-Eating Addiction
The Doctors introduced Tania, a practical nurse and mother of two. She revealed that she’s addicted to eating chalk and baby powder. She’s been eating them since she was about three-years-old, and even keeps chalk is several places around her house and in her car. She even likes to break up pieces of chalk, put them in a bowl, and eat it like potato chips. On her days off, she could eat three boxes of chalk and then have to follow it up with laxatives. On average, she spends four hours a day in the bathroom and sometimes she has pain so bad she can’t even sit down. She’s even had times where she couldn’t control her bowels.
Tania thinks there must be something mentally wrong with her because she can’t imagine living without it. She recognized that she needed help. The Doctors sent Tania to see Dr Sutha Sachar, to discuss her gastrointestinal issues as a result of her severe addiction. Tania shared that approximately 90% of her daily intake is chalk. Dr Sachar took a closer look at her stomach before sending Tania to get an endoscopy to take a closer look.
The Doctors: Suffering From Pica
The Doctors were joined by Tania, who said she was slightly embarrassed, but after 35 years she knew she needed to seek help. She said she hasn’t even been able to go farther than 10 minutes from her house because of her bathroom needs. Tania expressed that she felt as if she was addicted, and said the chalk provides stress relief for her. The Doctors had talked previously about a condition called Pica which causes someone to eat non-food items like chalk.
Dr Sachar explained that Tania eats approximately 5,000 pieces of chalk per year, and has been doing it for several years, equating to 112 pieces of chalk per week. Pica is an addiction and a craving for Tania. Dr Sachar explained that Tania is anemic, so her blood count is pretty low, to the point that she needs iron. Her vitamin D level was severely low as well.
The Doctors: Physical Damage From Eating Chalk
Dr Sachar explained that there was already damage done to the lining of esophagus and G.I. tract. She also had damage to the lining of her stomach and she had inflammation as well as erosion inside her stomach. It was all the result of her chalk addition. Tania said she was feeling motivated and feels as if there’s some hope for her.
The Doctors were joined over the phone by Dr Kim Dennis, CEO and Medical Director of Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, who said Tania definitely has Pica. It’s rare in adults, but psychologically it’s treated using the same techniques that are used to treat addiction. She said a lot of times people will use an addiction like this as a way to cope with underlying anxiety or life traumas. She said the behavior continues because it works as a coping mechanism.
The Doctors: Ready To Overcome Addiction
The Doctors asked Tania if she was ready to help herself and she said she was. She even shared that she actually left all the chalk she brought with her, at the hotel that morning, so she was chalk-free! Dr Kim shared that her treatment facility has successfully treated women with pica before, so she wanted to offer Tania a 30-day stay at her center to help her get rid of her addiction. Tania was brought to tears and then muttered a thank you, expressing that she was excited about being free of her addiction.
Do you or someone you know suffer from a strange addiction? Did Tania’s story hit close to home for you?