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Medical Laxative Addiction?

  1. Aug 30, 2008 #1
    Is there such thing as a laxative addiction? My friend lost some 40+lbs in a couple months. It was shocking. He said he's been eating nothing but potatoes and carrots. And taking a lot of Metamucil. He looks super good now, very thin, but apparently he's still taking Metamucil and losing weight.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 30, 2008 #2


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    It's another way of purging (as opposed to vomiting) and it can be difficult for people to stop. Once somebody has gotten used to process large amounts of fiber like that, they could experience constipation and perhaps other problems if they try to resume a more normal diet. For the sake of your friend's health, urge him to eat a balanced diet with green leafy vegetables, broccoli, grains, and at least some sources of protein.
  4. Aug 30, 2008 #3
    Laxative addiction, can be a real problem. Dehydration and loss of minerals and electrolytes, can lead to illness or death. Fiber like Metamucil{Psylium}, absorbs more then 50% of its weight in water, triggering the bowels to defecate.
    Its a really unhealthy way to loose weight. I hope you can get your friend to stop this abuse, and learn a healthy balanced way of eating.
  5. Aug 31, 2008 #4


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    As turbo and hypatia mentioned, the real problem here sounds like an eating disorder. Laxative abuse is a symptom of anorexia or bulemia (in this case, it sounds more like anorexia since it seems to be associated with an extreme caloric restriction as well, not binging). This is a VERY unhealthy diet, and highly dangerous. If you can get your friend to do so voluntarily, try suggesting he see a physician to "evaluate" his diet plan and make sure he has no nutrient deficiencies with it. Be a bit oblique about the real intent of getting him to see a physician so he's more likely to go and be honest about what he's doing. If you tell him you think he has an eating disorder and needs to see a doctor, he'll probably resist. If you say something like, "I've heard that fast of weight loss with laxatives might cause some nutrient deficiencies, why don't you call your doctor to get some blood drawn and make sure you don't need some supplements or anything," then maybe he'll do that and then the doctor can follow up with getting appropriate referrals for the eating disorder handled before it becomes life-threatening.

    If he keeps losing weight below what's healthy, which is likely if this is his approach to dieting and weight loss, and doesn't start seeing a doctor, you may have a tough road ahead. I'd suggest approaching others close to him to find out if they are also aware of what's going on...significant other, parents, roommates, other friends, whoever might be able to help you present a united front on this. If you can't get him voluntarily to a physician, it may quickly get to a point where his behavior becomes dangerous enough to his own health that someone may have to make the call to get him treated involuntarily.
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