Are Weight Loss Pills Like Other Drugs?

Obesity continues to be one of the most prevalent health conditions affecting about 42.4% of the American adult population annually. Some more startling statistics: In 2008 alone, the estimated medical cost of obesity was about $147 billion. Furthermore, obese individuals have to pay $1,429 more in medical costs than people with a healthy weight in any given year. It is not a secret that workout and diet are two of the most well-recognized and research-backed approaches to losing weight effectively. Research and advancements in technology have also brought about several other innovative approaches and techniques to losing weight over the years. Fortunately, all these approaches have universal acceptance. Well, all but one; the use of weight loss “pills” to get lean. 

Defining Obesity/Being Overweight:

A patient is overweight when his Body Mass Index (BMI) equals 25 or more. An obese patient, on the other hand, refers to an individual with a BMI of 30 or more. Unlike some ailments that you are helpless against, preventing this condition is mostly under your control. This is because it mainly occurs in people who lead an unhealthy lifestyle. Such people often overeat, eat junk and other unhealthy foods, are physically inactive, and consume many sugary products. However, some uncontrollable factors like genetics and certain medications can also contribute to obesity. Furthermore, eating disorders like Anorexia nervosa, Rumination disorders, Binge-eating disorders, or Avoidance or restriction of food intake disorder (ARFID) also plays a role in a person’s BMI or weight. These are beyond anyone’s control.

Dangers of Obesity

The numerous havocs caused by obesity are well documented. Obesity is linked with several health concerns such as stroke, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, sleep apnea, gout, breathing problems, osteoarthritis, metabolic syndrome, and many others. The best way to prevent obesity from leading to these complications is to lose excess weight and body fat. Unfortunately, this fat can be stubborn. It takes a significant amount of discipline and willpower to endure strict dieting and exercise. 

Is There Medication for Obesity?

Researchers listened to the people’s plight and got to work. Soon, different weight loss pills began to appear in the market. However, many people believed the pills were doing more harm than good. Pills are supposed to cure or keep any ailment under control, but many “medical practitioners” were advising against weight loss pills which begs the question, “Are weight loss pills not the same as other drugs?”

Well, the answer is simple. Like every other oral drug, they are broken down by the body into simple molecules, absorbed into the bloodstream, distributed into various body parts (where needed), transformed into a more active form of the drug, performed their duties, and later excreted from the body.

Weight Loss Pills

Are Weight Loss Pills Drugs? 

Like every other drug, weight loss pills also have side effects. There is no laboratory-formulated chemical entity marketed as a drug that doesn’t have a potential side effect. It’s just that some drugs tend to have more side effects than others. Moreover, side effects differ in severity. Some are mild and acceptable, while others are of enormous concern. In the end, doctors tend to weigh the risk against the benefit. In the case of weight loss pills, typical side effects include nausea, vomiting, restlessness, diarrhea, kidney problem, elevated blood pressure, accelerated heartbeat, nervousness, insomnia, and others.

And finally, like some other drugs, dependence and abuse tend to occur with weight loss pills. Sticking to diet plans and a regular workout schedule is not easy. Most people tend to give up while the problem worsens. As a result, such people put all their hopes on weight loss pills since they are marketed as quick fixes to their condition. As such, they abuse the drugs in the hope of a sudden miracle or quick weight loss.

The Good and Bad of Weight Loss Pills

Most people forget that a healthy diet and regular exercise go hand-in-hand with the pills for optimal outcomes. Using pills to get rid of excess weight isn’t that straightforward. Everything can easily go wrong because weight loss pills function by doing one of three things:

  • Inhibit fat absorption into the body system.
  • Suppress appetite by tricking the brain into thinking you are full already.
  • Stimulate the central nervous system to pump you with euphoria and energy 

Taking any weight loss pill that takes any of the last two routes places you at risk of addiction because it modifies the brain’s working system and makes you crave more drugs. 

Are Fat-Absorbing Pills the Solution? 

Studies have shown that most people will regain the weight they had previously lost when they stop taking the pills, especially if they are not eating healthy and exercising. The relapse maybe doubles the original weight. So, even if you choose from those that inhibit fat absorption, you may end up abusing the drug to maintain your new weight. Meanwhile, these pills are to be stopped after a few months consistently! This group of people will knowingly subject themselves to the drugs’ numerous side effects.

Interestingly, weight loss can also occur while taking some other medications. For example, weight loss is part of metformin’s side effects in diabetes management. Other drug classes that cause unintentional weight loss include anticonvulsants, opiates, antipsychotics, antibiotics, and some others. Sadly, people also abuse some of these drugs, albeit for reasons other than weight loss. An example is opioids like cocaine and morphine.

The side effects of weight loss pills far supersede the transient weight loss benefit they offer. Also, these pills reconfigure the brain such that withdrawing attempts are very intense and tasking. While it’s difficult, people with a strong desire to beat their addiction to weight loss pills always pull it off. A licensed rehabilitation center also helps make the task less daunting. They will also identify and address the underlying medical condition that prompted the abuse or addiction to the pills. So, in the face of potential abuse, addiction, and serious side effects; is taking weight loss pills worth the risk?

Seeking Help for Addiction to Weight Loss Pills

The easy way is not always the best path. Using weight loss pills is not something you should take lightly. It’s not even a decision you should make by yourself because of the many dangers associated with it. Instead, let your doctor decide for you and, if needed, prescribe the pill with the least side effects that best suits you. And no matter what, never forget this: to lose weight, a healthy diet and regular workout are non-negotiable!

However, if you belong in the other zone (already addicted to weight loss pills), please seek medical help right away! Weight loss pills are like other pills in theory, but they come with the potential for serious harm like other drugs. 

If you, or someone you love, are struggling with addiction to stimulants, call 408-547-4089 and speak to a Silicon Valley Recovery team member to talk about treatment options in the San Francisco Bay area in California. 

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