Most weight loss pills contain amphetamine-like medications and are on the controlled substances schedule. Abuse of these medicines can lead to dependence and addiction. Weight loss pills are weight to treat overweight or obese people when diet and exercise do not cause significant weight loss. Prescription weight-loss drugs are chemically similar to amphetamines, which have a well-established history of abuse. Understandably, some people wonder if these drugs carry a risk of abuse and dependence. 

 

U.S. FDA-Approved Weight Loss Pills

The United States FDA has approved the following drugs to help to lose weight in overweight and obese people. 

 

For long-term use

  • Orlistat (Xenical). It works by blocking the enzymes that your body uses to break down ingested fat. It is available both with and without a doctor’s prescription (OTC). OTC orlistat (Alli) contains a lower dose of the medication. 

 

  • Phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia). This combination product works by increasing energy expenditure and decreasing appetite. You need a doctor’s prescription to buy this product. 

 

  • Naltrexone-bupropion (Contrave). The medicines in Contrave work in the part of the brain that regulates your appetite and energy expenditure. It is available only with a doctor’s prescription. 

 

  • Liraglutide (Saxenda). Available by injection only, it works in your gut and brain. Liraglutide slows down the passage of food from the stomach to the small intestine. 

 

For short-term use 

All the weight loss pills used for short-term weight management are similar to amphetamines. 

  • Phentermine (Lomaira)
  • Benzphetamine (Didrex)
  • Diethylpropion (Tenuate) 
  • Phendimetrazine (Adipost, Anorex-SR)

 

Can Weight Loss Pills Lead to Addiction?

Abuse of weight loss pills is widespread. Most notably, abuse is more common among young women and those with a history of mental illness or drug abuse. Likewise, eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia, also increase abuse risk. 

weight loss pill and measuring tape

Some people may develop tolerance to weight loss medication, which means they need a higher amount of the drug to feel the effects. Long-term use/abuse may also lead to dependence. When this occurs, users may experience uncomfortable symptoms – such as high blood sugar levels, stomach pain, or other common withdrawal symptoms – upon stopping the drug. 

 

Does this Mean Weight Loss Pills are Addictive?

Abuse, dependence, and addiction are different things. One may have drug dependence but not an addiction. Addiction is a chronic mental disease that occurs when a person continues drug use despite the known health and other hazards. You should also understand that physical dependence, unlike psychological dependence, is a stronger predictor of addiction. 

Interestingly, this does not mean that addiction is unlikely. There have been several reports of addiction associated with the use of weight loss pills. Medicines in these pills are usually Central Nervous System stimulants; they increase energy levels, lift mood, help drop bodyweight, and cause euphoria, creating a perfect recipe for dependence. 

People also tend to mix weight loss pills with other drugs, or while drinking alcohol. The side effects of the medication sometimes will mitigate the less desired symptoms of drug abuse, like fatigue. 

The addiction risk of weight loss pills is lower than that of amphetamines. Nonetheless, this should not be an excuse for you to abuse them. Abuse may lead to overdose, which can be fatal. 

 

Does the DEA control weight Loss Pills?

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has categorized weight loss pills into either Schedule III or Schedule IV. 

 

Schedule III weight loss pills

Moderate to low risk for physical and psychological dependence.

  • Benzphetamine (Didrex)
  • Phendimetrazine (Adipost, Anorex-SR)

 

Schedule IV weight loss pills

Low risk of abuse and dependence. 

  • Phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia)
  • Diethylpropion (Tenuate) 

 

Effects of Weight Loss Pill Abuse

In low doses, you may experience:

  • Euphoria
  • Intense Feelings of Wellbeing
  • Rapid Heart Rate 
  • Elevated Blood Pressure
  • Increased Alertness
  • Talkativeness
  • Decreased Appetite

 

Higher doses may cause:

  • Anxiety
  • Tension
  • Increased Body Temperature
  • Nausea
  • Shaking
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

 

Signs and Symptoms of Withdrawal 

The following withdrawal symptoms can persist for one to three weeks. Relapse usually occurs within 4 to 12 weeks of discontinuing amphetamine or similar drugs. 

  • Irritability
  • Aches and Pains
  • Depression
  • Impaired Social Functioning

 

Treatment of Weight Loss Pill Dependence

A combination of medicine and counseling is the cornerstone of stimulant dependence treatment. Medicines can include drugs to improve mood and control anxiety and seizures. Counseling is an integral part of addiction/dependence treatment. The most commonly used forms of psychotherapy are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and contingency management (CM). 

girl with two types of pills on front of her

 

FAQs

Are herbal weight loss pills safe?

The U.S. FDA does not regulate these products. Hence, their safety is unknown. It is best to avoid these miracle drugs that promise dramatic weight loss in no time.

 

Does metformin help with weight loss?

With a healthy diet and exercise, metformin works to help you lose a few pounds. However, side effects are common. Some metformin side effects include diarrhea, bloating, muscle pain, and low blood sugar. If you have questions about starting or how to stop taking metformin, talk to your doctor

 

Key Takeaways

  • Most prescription weight loss pills contain amphetamine-like substances. 
  • Many users have reported dependence and withdrawal. 
  • These medicines are in either Schedule III or Schedule IV of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). 
  • Though these pills are less likely than amphetamine to cause addiction, addiction may lead to potentially fatal overdoses. 

 

Addiction to these pills is common, along with eating disorders. If you or someone you know is struggling, the staff at Anchored Tides Recovery are very experienced in both areas and have helped hundreds of women find a safe place to heal in Orange County, CA. 

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