What is Laxative Abuse?
Some individuals suffering from eating disorders like Anorexia, Bulimia or Compulsive Overeating misuse laxatives as a means of purging. These individuals are under the misconception that by using laxatives they can get rid of unwanted calories.
A Dangerous and Ineffective Method
Laxative abuse is an innefective method of weight loss since most calories from food are absorbed by the small intestine just after eating. Most laxatives work by irritating the intestinal linings, or by directly stimulating nerves. Continual over stimulation of the intestines from laxative abuse can eventually cause the bowels to become unresponsive.
Laxative Abuse: A Personal Account
The following is a personal account of an individual who became entrapped in the misuse of laxatives:
“I am 19 years old and I never thought I would or could ever develop an eating disorder, but, sure enough, I did and am now suffering the consequences. I have always been athletic and very active so my weight was never a problem. This changed when I was sent away to boarding school my junior year of high school and was unable to practice the sports I played (gymnastics, soccer and swimming.) My metabolism slowed down and I began to gain weight and lose the appearance of the lean and toned body I once possessed.
For a while it didn't seem to bother me until the entire thing blew out of proportion and took control of my life. It all started while I was at boarding school and I was having trouble going to the bathroom. At the first sign of constipation the nurses gave me laxatives and I would take them as I needed. Well I soon was drinking the orange flavored laxative fiber drink twice a day to keep me regular until eventually the drink stopped working all together.
To make a long story short, from that point on I started taking different types of laxatives and kept upping the dose until the point were the particular type of laxative I was taking at the moment stopped working. Then I would start up on a new laxative and repeat the dance. During all of this, my mind somehow tricked itself into thinking I was losing weight every time I went to the bathroom. I was afraid that if I ever became irregular again and failed to have a bowel movement, I would gain weight. My laxative abuse graduated to where I started taking a stimulant laxative, which was very effective. I was now able to go to the bathroom every day and each time I went, I felt as if I just shed a few pounds.
Well, when I left boarding school and came home I took advantage of my new laxative "miracle pills" (as I thought.) I would binge eat and then take multiple laxative pills to "flush out my system" so I wouldn't gain weight. I soon was exceeding three times the recommended dose. I couldn't go to the bathroom without taking the laxative pills. If by chance I couldn't go to the bathroom, I felt as if I gained weight and wouldn't even leave bed for fear that people would see how fat I perceived myself. By this time I had been on the laxative pills for 3 years and the situation had grown into something so completely out of control that it was impossible for me to deal with it. I even dropped two classes because they were in the mornings and I couldn't go to them because I had to take my laxatives the night before, causing me to be on the toilet most of the following morning. Going out at night or the weekends became impossible because of the extreme stomach cramps they caused. I really became scared because these laxative pills had now taken complete control of my life and the way I felt about myself.
Complications of Laxative Abuse
The misuse of laxatives can cause significant and severe medical complications. These complications include but are not limited to:
- Intestinal injury
- Melanosis coli
- Gastric bleeding
- Gastric ulceration
- Bloating, abdominal pain, fullness
- Aggrivation of hemorrhoids
- Perforations and lacerations of the esophagus (Mallory-Weiss Syndrome)
- Ulceration of the bowel
- Fatty infiltration of the liver
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Hypoalbuminemia, hypoproteinemia or calcium deficiency caused by malabsorption of nutrients
Getting Help for Laxative Abuse
Rader Programs understands and can successfully help individuals suffering from eating disorders like Anorexia, Bulimia or Compulsive Overeating who have misused laxatives. We have developed a withdrawal protocol that allows the individual to end the use of laxatives with the least amount of discomfort.
Our interdisciplinary staff works around the clock to provide you with personalized care and put you on the road to total recovery.
Let Rader Programs help you achieve a healthier, happier future.
For more information on Rader Program’s laxative abuse treatment and other treatment programs, call 1-800-841-1515 or request a free assessment today.