Diet Pill Addiction

Diet Pill Addiction

Diet pills can be a useful tool in the battle for weight loss. Many people benefit from taking a diet pill in addition to getting exercise and eating a healthful diet. For some, diet pills are like a kick start that gets the weight loss momentum going. For others, they help get those last few tricky pounds off. Taking diet pills can be very risky, however, and they are not a long term solution to weight loss. Diet pills are a drug, and although they are over the counter, that does not mean they are always safe. Most are not recommended or regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and some have been pulled from shelves for causing dangerous side effects and even death. Even if the drug is relatively safe, the user can become addicted and the results can be devastating.

What are Diet Pills?

There are a few different types of diet pills although there are many, many different brands. The ingredients can vary and include synthetic compounds as well as natural, herbal supplements.

  • Suppression. Some diet pills claim to work by suppressing the appetite. Ingredients in these pills may include a class of drugs called catecholamines, green tea extract, hoodia, or chromium. The effectiveness of blocking the appetite is not certain for these types of pills.
  • Metabolism. Other diet drugs target the body’s metabolism, which is the chemical process that breaks down food for energy. Ingredients like bitter orange, chromium, green tea extract, and caffeine and other stimulants are used to speed up metabolism and increase the amount of calories burned. These are not necessarily effective at doing so.
  • Fat blocking. The most proven, effective ingredients in diet pills are those that block dietary fat from being absorbed by the body. Alli, chitosan, and guar gum are products and ingredients that make this claim.

How are Diet Pills Addictive?

Most of the ingredients in diet pills are not dangerous in the sense that they are not addictive compounds. The stimulants that are often found in pills that claim to speed metabolism are an exception. They can be physically addictive and users may become dependent on them over time. It is still possible to become addicted to diet pills psychologically.

Psychological addiction is often overlooked, but is very important. When people are addicted to alcohol or illegal drugs, they develop a physical dependency. However, people who become addicted to eating, shopping, working, gambling, and other non-drugs, are psychologically dependent. These things have no direct physical effect on the body, but addiction occurs through other means.

Often, people start out using diet pills responsibly. They stick to the recommended dosage. Over time, though, the user may feel like that is not enough and that taking more pills will result in more weight loss. Eventually, the user may feel a very real psychological need for the pills and it can be very tough to stop using them.

How Dangerous is a Diet Pill Addiction?

Being addicted to anything is harmful. Diet pills are drugs and they contain compounds that can create unpleasant and serious side effects, especially when they are abused and used with too great a frequency. There are many different side effects of taking diet pills, even when used as the label suggests:

  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Constipation
  • Gas
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Loose stools
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Agitation
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings

When diet pills are used incorrectly, over the long term, or too frequently, the side effects can become severe and there can be lasting ill effects on health. The user becomes more likely to have a heart attack, high blood pressure, kidney failure, and liver toxicity.

How Can You Tell if Someone is Addicted?

If someone you know is using diet pills, keep a close eye on her. Watch for signs that she has used a pill for more than a month or that she is trying several different types. Using diet pills in a destructive manner and becoming addicted to them can mask underlying emotional problems. If this person seems to be obsessed with weight loss, with weighing herself, with counting calories, and with food in general, she could have a deeper problem than just the use of diet pills.

Approach your friend or loved one with gentle, yet firm concerns. Be sure that she understands that you are worried about her and that you are not judging her or making a commentary about her weight. Offer to help her find a professional who can work through her issues with weight and address the possibility of a diet pill addiction.

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