The Risks Of Chronic Laxative Use

Laxative abuse is common in patients with eating disorders who seek to lose extra weight.

However, chronic use of laxatives can lead to illness and even death.

What is Laxative Abuse?

Laxative abuse occurs when a person attempts to purge unwanted calories or otherwise lose weight by the frequent use of laxatives. A person who abuses laxatives mistakenly believes that they will rush food and calories through the gut and bowels before nutrients can be absorbed. However, this is not the case, and regular use of laxatives for this reason can lead to life-threatening complications.

The Laxative Myth

Those who use laxatives regularly for weight loss hold the belief that nutrients and calories will be passed through the large intestine before they are absorbed. However, by the time laxatives actually stimulate the large intestine, laxative-induced bowel movements contain little actual food. Instead, the body purges water, minerals, electrolytes and indigestible fiber.

This alternate effect is commonly known as purging “water weight”, which returns when an individual drinks fluids and rehydrates the body. Chronic laxative abusers often choose not to rehydrate, risking dehydration and further damage to the organs.

Consequences of Laxative Abuse

There are a number of ways to damage the colon when an individual abuses laxatives. For example, the colon can become laxative dependent and only react to increased doses of laxatives. This can cause unusual bowel movements. Additionally, laxative abuse can lead to a stretched or “lazy” colon and a colon infection. Chronic laxative use may even lead to colon cancer.

By using laxatives excessively, a person strips nutrients from the body. These nutrients include sodium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorous minerals. These minerals allow the nerves and muscles to function properly, and upsetting this balance can harm delicate and vital organs.

Source: National Eating Disorders

Eating Disorder Self Test. Take the EAT-26 self test to see if you might have eating disorder symptoms that might require professional evaluation. All answers are confidential.

Find a Treatment Facility Near You

Click on a state below to find eating disorder treatment options that could be right for you.

Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Additional calls will also be forwarded and returned by a quality treatment center within the USA.

Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit will be answered by a licensed drug and alcohol rehab facility, a paid advertiser on

All calls are private and confidential.

I NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE NOWI NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE NOW 800-568-9025Response time about 1 min | Response rate 100%
Who Answers?