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Diet Pill Abuse, Addiction and Treatment

Prescription and over-the-counter diet pills may seem harmless, but they have scary side effects and high abuse and addiction potential.

Understanding Diet Pills

dietpillsDiet pills encompass a number of prescription and over-the-counter supplements designed to help the user reduce or control their weight. Diet pills interfere with body processes that affect weight by suppressing appetite, increasing metabolism or preventing fat absorption.

Other names for diet pills include anorectic or anorexiant drugs, appetite suppressants, anti-obesity medication or centrally acting anti-obesity preparations. Many prescription diet pills are designated Schedule III or IV under the Controlled Substances Act. This is to prevent abuse of the drugs and attempt to keep diet pills in the hands of those who could actually benefit from them. Despite these regulations, diet pills are abused at an alarming rate.

Considering the prevalence of weight loss promises in America, it’s no surprise that diet pills are common and available in multiple forms. Whether over the counter or prescription, each diet pill has its own risks and concerns associated with it. It is important to remember that just because something is available freely at the drugstore, or prescribed by a doctor, it is not necessarily safe—especially when used outside of the recommended dose or method. If you think someone you know is abusing diet pills, get in touch with our counselors to get help.

Some of the most commonly abused diet pills include:

  • Benzphetamine (Didrex)—An anorectic closely related to amphetamines. Benzphetamine is most commonly sold under the prescription name Didrex, and its main function is to reduce appetite in obese individuals.
  • Diethylpropion—(Tenuate, Tepanil) Prescribed on a short term basis to suppress appetite.
  • Mazindol—(Mazanor, Sanorex) Currently only approved for use in the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, mazindol prescriptions may be abused for their appetite suppressive properties
  • Phentermine—(Adipex, Ionamin) Reduces appetite. Used short term to reduce weight in overweight individuals.

Diet Pill Abuse and Effects

Because modern diet pills were introduced to replace amphetamines as appetite suppressants, the drugs have many similarities, including a potential for dependence and addiction. Amphetamines comprise a class of drugs used to increase performance. Diet pills may cause increased energy and feelings of euphoria, increasing the likelihood of addiction. Common side effects of diet pill abuse might include:

Insomnia

 

Dizziness

 

Hallucinations

 

Chest pain

 

Rash and itching

 

Swelling of legs and ankles

 

Vomiting

 

Yellowing of skin or eyes

 

Dark urine or light-colored stool

 

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Signs of a Diet Pill Addiction

An addiction to diet pills is often caused by an eating disorder or other underlying mental health disorders. Becoming dependent on diet pills is not uncommon, as they can provide a false sense of control in a life that seems out of control. Because diet pills are readily available over the counter or by prescription, an addiction can develop quickly and quietly.

There are 11 signs of addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to help people recognize when a problem has developed. If someone is aware that their diet pill use is interfering with their health, relationships and personal life but can’t quit on their own, they may need professional help to target the root cause of their issue and find treatment. Find out more about addiction and how to overcome it.

Diet Pill Addiction Treatment

Overcoming an addiction to diet pills starts with identifying the underlying reason for abusing them. Inpatient and ongoing treatment programs can help you work through your struggles and find lasting success.

Diet Pill Abuse Statistics

20of girls

By the ages of 19 and 20, 20 percent of girls had used diet pills, according to research out of the University of Minnesota.

62.7percent

62.7 percent of teenage females use “unhealthy weight control behaviors,” according to a study from the University of Minnesota.

24million

Approximately 24 million people in the United States suffer from an eating disorder.

If you have an addiction to diet pills and are ready to get your life back on track, help is available. Seeking treatment for an addiction may seem daunting, but there are many caring, trained addiction specialists who can help you get through this hard time. Get in touch with us today for help.

Sources & Author Last Edited: November 25, 2015

  1. Drug Guide. (2014). Anorectic Drugs. Retrieved on April 2, 2014, from: http://www.drugfree.org/drug-guide/anorectic-drugs/
  2. U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. (2014). Drug Fact Sheets. Retrieved on April 2, 2014, from: http://www.justice.gov/dea/druginfo/concerns.shtml
  3. University of Minnesota. (2006). New study shows teenage girls' use of diet pills doubles over five-year span. Retrieved on April 2, 2014, from: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-10/uom-nss103006.php
  4. Science Direct. (2007). Features associated with diet pill use in individuals with eating disorders. Retrieved on April 2, 2014, from: http://eatingdisorders.ucsd.edu/research/pdf_papers/2008/reba-harrelson2008features.pdf
About the Writer, Kayla Smith

Kayla Smith is the editorial director for Addiction Center. After working for years as a journalist, she joined the Addiction Center team in hopes of spreading awareness about addiction and mental health issues and helping people get treatment.

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