Skip to Content

Medication Abuse

By Angie Best-Boss, Contributing Writer

Medication abuse is common in those struggling with eating disorders. Laxatives, syrup of Ipecac, diuretics and diet aids are all over the counter medications frequently used and abused in people living with anorexia nervosa and/or bulimia nervosa. Medication abuse can take many forms.

Diuretics may be used as a weight-loss aid, but the lost weight from using diuretics is only water weight and is quickly regained. Not only are diuretics ineffective for sustained weight loss, but they also are potentially dangerous because of electrolyte disturbances and lowered blood pressure.

Laxatives are any product designed to stimulate evacuation of the bowels - they include tablets, syrups, salts, drinks, laxatives in confectionery form, and 'natural' laxatives. Many people who suffer from bulimia and anorexia find themselves abusing laxatives, that is taking more than the recommended dose, or regularly taking laxatives over a period of weeks, months or even years.

Ipecac syrup is another form of medication abuse. Meant to be used rarely to rid the body of toxins, it is dangerous and not meant to be used regularly.

Another form of medication abuse is using diet pills. Whether herbal or purely caffeine, diet pills are dangerous and ineffective.

In addition, women with an eating disorder are twice as likely to have another addiction to prescription medication or illegal drugs as women who were not living with an eating disorder.