You can overcome laxative dependence by gradually reducing the dose and seeing a doctor. It may help to create a list of all the laxatives you consume, in addition to the amounts you take of each. On the other hand, sometimes laxative dependence is a sign of a bigger problem, like an eating disorder. Eating disorders can be fatal, and if you suspect that you or a friend has a disorder, seek help as soon as possible. Overcoming this kind of dependence can be difficult, so consider joining a support group.
Sometimes a gradual reduction in dosage can wean a person off laxatives. This phase-off should occur under a doctor’s supervision. Bowel movements are important to maintaining a healthy body, and it is entirely possible for a gradual dose reduction to fail at returning your body to normal. A person who cannot have a bowel movement will feel bloated and may experience mild to severe pain, depending on how long he or she goes without a movement. Keeping in contact with a health professional is a good idea because he or she can tell you how to proceed if a bowel movement does not happen.
Laxative dependence is often defined by having a “lazy colon,” which is a colon that requires stimulation from a laxative in order to work properly. On the other hand, laxative dependence can have little to do with a person’s inability to have bowel movements and instead may be related to an eating disorder. Laxative abuse is very common among people who wish to lose weight fast. Some people have been found to take more than quadruple a normal dose to continue keeping off the weight. The weight loss is only water weight, however, and the abuser regains the weight if he or she re-hydrates.
To get rid of a laxative dependence due to an eating disorder, it is safest to visit a health professional. Eating disorders are very destructive on a person’s body, and sometimes they are fatal. Some people who have suffered from laxative dependence eating disorders have been able to quit by simply not taking laxatives any more and returning to a healthy diet. For most others, quitting is not so easy and requires help from friends, family, and doctors.
Support groups for addictive substances may help. While laxatives themselves are not necessarily habit-forming, their abuse can be a symptom of another addiction, such as feeling thin. Support groups offer individuals a chance to talk through their problems in a safe and supportive environment. In some support groups, you are not even required to tell people your name or why you are attending.