Nurse Who is Addicted to Eating Chalk Asks for Help
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Taneah, a nurse and mother of two, has been eating baby powder and chalk every day since she was 3 years old. She reveals her addiction for the first time on The Doctors.
Taneah keeps chalk in her car, the bathroom, by her bed, under her pillow and at work. “I’ll even break it up in little pieces and put it in a bowl, eat it like potato chips,” Taneah admits. As a result, Taneah experiences frequent severe bouts of diarrhea and other GI issues.
“A lot of times I feel like there must be something mentally wrong with me, like who does this but a crazy person? If you know something is hurting you, just stop,” she says. “But it’s hard to even imagine living life without it. At this point, I know I need help.”
The Doctors send Taneah to gastroenterologist Dr. Su Sachar to assess whether she’s damaged her internal organs. Taneah reveals to Dr. Sachar that about 90 percent of her daily intake is chalk.
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Taheah joins The Doctors onstage and explains that eating chalk helps her relieve stress.
"At times of high stress, high anxiety, when I get that chalk, and I bite into it, that initial crunch is so relaxing. It’s almost like it’s orgasmic. That is what I need at that moment to calm me down, and nothing else will suffice.”
Dr. Sachar explains that Taneah suffers from a condition called pica, which is repetitive eating of non-food items. The behavior is used to cope with anxiety or trauma and is treated similarly to other addictions.
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Learn what Dr. Sachar's tests reveal about what could be causing the condition and whether it has affected Taneah's long-term health.
The Doctors ask Dr. Kim Dennis, medical director of Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, to address the emotional issues that could be leading to Taneah’s addictive behavior. Find out what treatment she recommends.