Diet Pill Ipecac And Laxative Abuse

Individuals with eating disorders often use various over-the-counter medications to suppress their appetite or purge calories from their bodies. This substance abuse is extremely harmful, let alone an ineffective method of weight loss. Since your body begins absorbing food energy as soon as you eat, purging is a bad method of removing calories from your body. It also eliminates compounds necessary for survival, such as electrolytes, minerals and water.

The most common substances taken for weight loss are diuretics, emetic agents (such as ipecac syrup), laxatives and weight loss pills.

Diuretic Substance Abuse

Diuretics, or water pills, are used to treat high blood pressure and a variety of other conditions. Diuretics reduce levels of sodium and water by increasing your volume of urination. For people with high blood pressure, decreased fluids in the blood vessels take the pressure off artery walls. Weight lost through use of diuretics is not true weight loss, however; it’s simply the loss of water. This weight will reappear once your body is properly re-hydrated. Diuretic substance abuse can lead to fatigue and nausea, as well as a variety of long-term health problems related to abnormal levels of sodium and sugar in the blood.

Emetic Substance Abuse: Ipecac Syrup

Emetic substances induce vomiting, and ipecac syrup is the most well known agent of this type. Until recently, doctors advised parents to administer ipecac syrup to their children if they swallow poison, but this is no longer a recommended form of poison control. Frequent use of ipecac syrup and other emetic substances can result in:

  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive vomiting (continuing for over half an hour)
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Stomach pain
  • Weakness and fatigue.

Like diuretics, ipecac syrup can build up in your body over time, possibly resulting in life-threatening health complications.

Laxative Abuse

Laxatives relieve the discomfort of constipation by producing a bowel movement. Like diuretic substance abuse, laxative abuse results in the loss of vital electrolytes, minerals and water, which can cause serious dehydration and organ damage. Other side effects of laxative abuse include abdominal pain, diarrhea and nausea. Long-term use of laxatives may cause your body to become dependent on laxatives, and you may need increasingly large doses to induce bowel movements. In rare cases, laxative abuse can be fatal.

Long-term Use of Weight Loss Pills

Weight loss pills contain chemical ingredients that suppress your appetite. Unfortunately, weight loss pills aren’t subject to the same regulatory standards as prescription drugs. As a result, many over-the-counter weight loss pills aren’t safe, as evidenced by the growing number of FDA warnings about the key ingredients in weight loss pills.

Resources

Mayo Clinic. (2008). Diuretics. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diuretics/HI00030

National Eating Disorders Association. (2005). Laxative abuse: Some basic facts. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/nedaDir/files/documents/handouts/Laxative.pdf

Smith, M. & Kovatch, S. (n.d.) Bulimia nervosa: Signs, symptoms, treatment and help. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from http://helpguide.org/mental/bulimia_signs_symptoms_causes_treatment.htm

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. (2003). Food for thought: Substance abuse and eating disorders. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from http://www.casacolumbia.org/articlefiles/380-Food%20for%20Thought.pdf

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2000). Retrieved July 14, 2010, from http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/InformationbyDrugClass/ucm150763.htm