EDs, Digestion & Laxative Use

Not the pleasantest of topics. But it’s something that a lot of people with EDs have a problem with. Eating not enough or not enough fibre leads to constipation, which can lead to laxative use , which leads to stomach pains and diarrhoea and prolonged use leads to dependance, with some people taking ten, twenty, thirty or even more of those pills a day.

Maybe once you’ve tried them once, they hurt and disgust you so much that you get sworn off them. Maybe not. I think that for a lot of people with EDs, once you use them once, sure, they might give you a lot of stomach pain and disgust you, but the seduction of the feeling of an empty stomach overrides the pain and disgust: and you find yourself turning back to those pills. Even if laxatives only get rid of less than 10% of the calories of what you have consumed.

Right now I just feel stuck. When I got back from my holiday a week ago, I took laxatives everyday for three days. Then because of work, I stopped taking them for five days. It could be I wasn’t eating enough, or laxative dependance, or both. Whatever the reason, I could not go to the toilet for days. So when it came to the weekend I found myself turning to those laxatives again. What came next was the worst stomach pain. Half the night I couldn’t sleep because the pain was so bad and spent that time in the bathroom instead. I was planning to go to the movies with my high school friend I haven’t seen in almost three months this morning. Those plans? Cancelled. All because I used laxatives, was in so much pain and was afraid that I’d have to rush off to the bathroom while out with her.

According to the factsheet my previous psychologist gave me about laxative misuse, laxatives can be stopped abruptly. It can take time for normal bowel function to return, but with adaquate food intake, especially high fibre foods, and increased fluid intake, it will happen. Hmm, adequate food intake. Easier said than done. Increasing the amount of food I eat, that scares me. Just like it would scare every other person with an ED.

Maybe the best thing would be prevention, stopping people from with EDs from getting addicted to laxatives by making sure they don’t start using them in the first place. One of the ways of preventing people with EDs getting their hands on laxatives would be to make them less available. Right now you can purchase them from any old supermarket. It might be a bit embarassing to buy them, but they are there and easily obtainable. Selling them only in a pharmacy would be a better option. I am a pharmacy student and I remember one of the lecturers saying something about laxatives. How as a pharmacist you can warn customers that prolonged use can lead to dependance when they purchase them. If you suspect someone of laxative misuse you can speak with them about it and recommend that they go to their GP. You can stop someone from buying multiple boxes of laxatives, unlike the supermarket where the cashiers are hardly going to care about your health and whether you are abusing laxatives or not. Sure, there are flaws to this. Someone could go to multiple pharmacies and purchase multiple boxes of laxatives that way. But at least it would be an improvement from the current situation where they are sold freely in supermarkets, with patient use unmonitered.

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