Don’t you wish you could just pop a pill and magically lose weight? That is exactly what many people hope for when they buy an over-the-counter weight loss remedy. Or they may go to the doctor and ask for a prescription medication to help them lose weight. Well, that may have been all the rage a decade ago, but some of those pills have been taken off the market because of adverse effects and new ones have popped up in their place.
Can you get addicted to diet pills? Whether they’re over-the-counter or prescription medications to help you lose weight, they can be abused like any substance and can have long-lasting side effects that weren’t intended.
How Do Diet Pills Work?
Diet pills can be broken down into one of three groups. Weight loss medications fall into appetite suppressants, stimulants, and fat blockers. Each has its own set of side effects in the short and long term. Fat blockers’ side effects are primarily concentrated on the gastrointestinal system. The more fat or greasy foods you eat, the worse your gastrointestinal side effects will be. In that sense, fat blockers can cause behavior modification if you’re willing to put up with the side effects.
Medications meant to suppress appetite target the chemical neurotransmitters in your brain, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, to help you feel full so you don’t eat as much. Those chemicals also target the pleasurable associations with food to help decrease appetite. These can also contain some stimulants which have suppressed appetite as a side effect.
The third group involves stimulants, which can vary from herbal remedies to caffeine to amphetamines in prescription form. This third type of pill for weight loss carries the greatest risk of abuse. These medications are designed for those who are severely obese and may have a chronic condition, such as diabetes, where weight loss is crucial for health. Unfortunately, many doctors have prescribed them (at patients’ requests) for those who don’t meet the criteria for obesity.
But It’s Prescribed
Don’t be fooled by the fact that these medications are prescribed. As a class of medications that fall into the category of stimulants, a person using these pills can become dependent and need to increase the amount they’re taking to get the same effect. They can also overdose on diet pills. The effect is similar to having an overdose of meth or cocaine and can cause heart failure.
The short-term effects of stimulants are dry mouth, constipation, racing heart, increased blood pressure, and, yes, appetite suppression. You can also expect insomnia. The side effects taper off after a week or two but so do the weight loss effects you’re seeking. You need more of the substance to get the same level of appetite suppression and stimulation. Before you know it, you have a substance use disorder.
The long-term effects of stimulants can be considerably damaging. You may develop high blood pressure, heart valve diseases, and, if you stop, withdrawal symptoms. Your body will have to adjust to functioning without it. If you have ever withdrawn from caffeine, you know some of the symptoms to expect–lethargy, headaches, and even depression.
It’s also important to remember that many appetite suppressant dietary aids also contain stimulants and can carry the same side effects while using and when withdrawing from the medication.
While the side effects of fat blockers can be less severe, many of the gastrointestinal side effects are unpleasant, to say the least. When a new fat blocker came on the market several years ago, people flocked to buy this newfound weight loss aid. However, many users reported having to take extra clothing to work with them in case they had an “accident.”
What About Natural or Herbal Supplements?
Many over-the-counter, “natural” remedies make claims that cannot be substantiated by the FDA. Worse yet, they may even contain medications discontinued by the government due to adverse side effects, such as Meridia, now marketed as Sibutramine. Before spending your money on one of these over-the-counter remedies, be sure to read the label and know what you’re taking. While you’re at it, consult your doctor before taking any kind of over-the-counter medication.
Classes of Drugs
Some common appetite suppressants include Liraglutide, Lorcaserin, Sibutramine, Bupropion, and Naltrexone, marketed under trade names such as Contrave, Saxenda, and Belviq. Fat blockers on the market include Alli and Xenical. Stimulants on the market include Didrex (Benzphetamine), Tenuate (Diethylpropion), Pondimin (Fenfluramine), and even Desoxyn, which is methamphetamine. Do you think diet pills are harmless now?
It would be great if we could take some kind of magic pill and instantly become thin and fit. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Weight loss should come from a combination of a balanced diet and exercise and should be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle, not a temporary diet. If you have been taking diet pills and have become dependent on their use, we here at Everlast Recovery Centers can help. Our Riverside, California, facility offers traditional therapy and detoxification, as well as alternative therapies such as equine therapy, hiking in nature, and yoga. We also serve healthy, home-cooked meals. When you complete our program, we offer aftercare services to ensure your wellness beyond your stay and get you back on track to a healthy lifestyle. Get the help you need today. We can help you finally live the substance-free and healthy life you have been looking for. Call us at (866) 338-6925.