Prescription Diet Pills–Addiction and Recovery
Prescription diet pills contain amphetamines and related chemicals which are frequently abused and are highly addictive. These chemicals have stimulating effects, boosting brain and nervous system activity, and among many other effects, suppressing appetite. They are available legally only by prescription and are considered by the DEA (the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) to be controlled substances on their Schedules II, III and IV lists. This means that drugs in Schedule II are deemed to have legitimate, but limited medical use, and a high abuse and addiction potential. Schedule III drugs are similar but considered less risky than those in Schedule II for abuse and addiction. However, abuse and addiction potential are present. Schedule IV is considered to have abuse and addiction risks, but also the lowest risk of these 3 classes.
Some of the stimulants in these classifications are listed below and have various medical uses (ADHD, narcolepsy, depression and weight control). They include:
Schedule II: dextroamphetamine (ProCentra), methamphetamine (Desoxyn), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall), methylphenidate (Ritalin), methylphenidate (Concerta), lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)
Schedule III: benzphetamine (Didrex), phendimetrazine (Bontril)
Schedule IV: phentermine (Suprenza, Adipex, Qsymia)
All of the above medications can cause appetite suppression and increased physical activity resulting in weight loss, and these lists are not exhaustive. There are other such drugs, all having the same general effects. For example, people who misuse them are often significantly underweight. Even those who use them under medical supervision for non-obesity related issues can struggle significantly to keep weight at a healthy level.
The DEA has said all the drugs mentioned above are similar in their effects to powder cocaine, crack cocaine, and illegally manufactured methamphetamine, and in the body as well as the brain, research has found them similar.
Medical Use of Prescription Diet Pills
Medically, prescription diet pills are helpful for weight loss when health is compromised by excessive weight. However, their use is rarely a primary weight loss treatment, but best medical practice recommends their use as a supplement to other efforts. The side-effects of these medications can cause other health risks and so prolonged use raises risk. Apart from the direct side-effects of decreased food intake, sleep loss, elevated pulse and blood pressure, for example, there is a strong risk for addiction. As with other abusable and addictive medications, there are many who develop misuse and addiction during medically supervised use.
Prescription Diet Pill Addiction
An addiction to prescription diet pills occurs when there is a cluster of symptoms within a year’s time that suggests compulsive use. Such symptoms can be use-related physical or mental consequences; decline in work or academics; relationship problems; cravings; withdrawal and increased tolerance for a higher dose after a period of use. Due to the chemical nature of these medications, a physical dependence develops, which is what we typically think of as an addiction.
In an addiction, the body learns to accommodate the substance and adjusts its functioning to ‘need’ it. When the dose lowers, the brain signals with distress that more of the substance is needed. This sets up a vicious cycle in which one will continue to use, despite wanting to stop and despite knowing use is problematic.
An addiction to prescription diet pill use is medically known as a Substance Use Disorder. It is an illness considered progressive through increasing degrees of severity if use continues. A qualified healthcare professional can diagnose the condition and its stage using medical criteria. Whether mild, moderate or severe, the damage of an addictive illness can be arrested. Medically, recovery is known as remission, and full remission is possible with abstinence. This means that one can withdraw and detox from diet pills and have no symptoms of an addiction to them after a period of recovery.
The compulsion to use diet pills is both biologically and psychologically based. Physically, one needs a medically supervised withdrawal and detox plan in which health is monitored to prevent a withdrawal crisis. Also, a supervised withdrawal can be far less distressful than ‘cold turkey’, and one’s chances of successfully completing detox are greatly increased with medical and other treatment support.
Issues in Recovery from Prescription Diet Pill Addiction
Recovery from prescription diet pill use often reveals a multi-layered challenge. There are naturally the body’s physical needs for safe withdrawal, a return to adequate nutrition and adequate rest, strengthening the body and managing any symptoms lingering from chronic use. However, there are also psychological issues involved with diet pill addictions that must be resolved for good recovery success, too.
Among common psychological issues in diet pill addiction are those related to body image and body weight. Many begin diet pill use because they are dissatisfied with their weight and body image. And, it is likely that a co-occurring Eating Disorder may also be at work such as anorexia, binging or bulimia. Not everyone who seeks weight loss with diet pills is actually overweight. However, our culture puts a great deal of value on thinness, and extra weight carries a significant social stigma.
Body weight and body image issues can be chronic, and people may use prescription medicines for ADHD or other issues with weight loss in mind. Illegal sale of prescription stimulants is wide-spread and many use these substances for weight control, or in severe cases, as a coping strategy for the obsessions and anxiety of an Eating Disorder. Consequently, when seeking treatment for an addiction to prescription diet pills, there can be a great deal of distress regarding weight returning in recovery. Some will need co-occurring treatment for addiction and an Eating Disorder.
Early Recovery from an Addiction to Prescription Diet Pills
Early recovery from any addiction is a vulnerable time. The brain chemistry is readjusting and there can be mental and emotional symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. Some will have lingering problems after detox that require non-addictive medications such as anti-depressants.
Early recovery also requires strengthening the body typically since diet pill addictions have suppressed appetite and have left one undernourished. Also, people in early recovery are prone to low immunity and are frequently exhausted. The body has to recover in these ways while the emotions are also trying to stabilize. It can be a time of mood swings, irritability, fatigue, and restlessness.
Relapse Prevention and Recovery from Diet Pill Addiction
Relapse prevention is always the key to continued recovery after detox. It sounds simple that one should stay well by simply not using. However simple that formula is, it is not always an easy one to follow. The lingering symptoms described above can be strong triggers to resume use. Particularly, those concerned with weight gain will find they gain weight in recovery. They are likely to resume a healthy weight as the body reclaims an appetite and is adequately nourished. However, any weight gain can be a powerful trigger to resume use for those who began an addiction with body image problems.
Also, the other after-effects of an addiction such as low energy and related low motivation and activity can trigger some to return to stimulant use. Depression can do the same. A quick yet temporary fix for all of these issues is to take a stimulant. Consequently, psychological support with a plan for healthier coping strategies is key. As is a good support system, a health-building routine and a structured recovery-based plan of action. People recovering from diet pill addictions do best using a holistic approach–attending to the physical health needs, having professional psychological support, and using a recovery-focused support system daily.
Getting the Right Help for an Addiction to Prescription Diet Pills
Getting the right help for any addiction can be a daunting task. Good help is widely available, however, sifting through to find the right fit for you or a loved one can be overwhelming. Particularly when at the point of needing intensive care such as in rehab, a person who is addicted and their loved ones are apt to be exhausted, extremely stressed, and overwhelmed.
It is important to find the right treatment program for you or your loved one that can resolve addiction issues, so you are well-equipped to carry on at home. If there are co-occurring problems such as body image problems and/or an Eating Disorder, these will need simultaneous treatment for best results. Not all rehabs can provide that, but many can. Some may also have co-occurring problems such as untreated depression, and in fact, many self-medicate with stimulants to cope with the low energy of a depression.
We offer you or your loved one free consultation to help identify specifically what your clinical needs are. You can cut through the confusion of choosing the right rehab program by using our services. We have an extensive database, have done a great deal of research and know how to efficiently find appropriate recommendations for you. We will help clarify your insurance, so you don’t have to deal with that either.
Treatment Works and Recovery is Possible
As dire as any active addiction is, there is always a solution. Treatment works, and recovery is always an option. You have to be willing to ask for help and open to receive it. You also have to get yourself to the right place to receive it, and once there, follow recommendations. Treatment and healing are processes. It won’t happen overnight, just as an addiction doesn’t, but with these few efforts, you can overcome your addiction.
If you are tired of the vicious cycle of compulsive diet pill use, it’s time for help. Give us a call today, and we will help you take that first daunting step. You’ll find it isn’t that difficult, and you’ll feel an immediate sense of relief that you are on the way to the healthier, more successful life you deserve.