Recognizing Weight Loss from Drug Use

weight loss from drug use

Drug use is one of the many ways to lose weight today, and recognizing this fact helps you to put your physical health into perspective. While weight loss may sometimes just be a side effect of using, however, it could be the major reason for using them. Moreover, in extreme situations, these medications could be abused by users amidst other reasons aside from the sole purpose of losing weight. This article will explore a few perspectives with the goal of helping you recognize weight loss from drug use. 

Three Perspectives of Drug-Related Weight Loss 

There may be many perspectives to weight loss and drugs, but three common perspectives of weight loss are our concern here namely: prescriptive drug use for weight loss, street drug use for weight loss, and as a side effect of drug use.


  • Weight Loss from Prescription Drugs


The first perspective relates to proper drug use for weight loss as prescribed by doctors under strict supervision. Some of these medications are typically used to treat patients suffering from cancer, HIV, infections, and ADHD. They often contain sibutramine which is used in slimming pills like Ciplatrim. 

And for patients with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), stimulants are used a lot in treating these people as the medicines help the patients stay focused and avoid distractions while shedding off weight. 

Medications to treat ADHD include: 

  • Dexedrine
  • Zenzedi
  • Adderall 

These prescriptions all contain dextroamphetamine; a central nervous system stimulant.

Medications to treat HIV include:

  • Didanosine
  • Zalcitabine

Medications to treat Cancer include:

  • Aldesleukin 
  • Interleukin-2
  • Capecitabine
  • Carboplatin 

The common feature these drugs have is their tendency to cause weight loss, which is why they are to be supervised strictly by doctors and given in small doses. These pills have the tendency to be abused because of the stimulated feeling they produce when taken. 

Obese people often get appetite suppressant prescriptions for weight loss after failed attempts at exercise and dieting. They simply prevent you from getting hungry by tricking your brain into believing that you are far from hungry, basically by increasing the hormone called serotonin which regulates your mood amongst other things. 

Although these prescriptions help in suppressing appetite, they are still to be combined with exercise and proper diet. They contain certain substances which makes it necessary to have specific prescriptions. Phentermine for instance contains amphetamine which can be addictive.


  • Weight Loss from Consuming Street Drugs


When the medications typically prescribed by doctors are accessed illegally without prescription, they become street drugs. This poses the question, “what street drugs make you lose weight?” 

The most used illicit drugs that cause people to lose weight include: 

These psychoactive drugs are grouped as stimulants, depressants, pain relievers, and hallucinogens. 

Since prescribed medications, like opiates and opioids, contain substances that could become highly addictive due to their effects, they are used more constantly and without prescription. In the context of weight loss, the user gets so interested in losing weight, begins to use the drugs excessively, loves the stimulating effect it produces alongside the weight loss and gets addicted.

Opioids are substances that are traditionally used to treat severe pain conditions. Most times, they are offered to patients fresh out of surgery and in some cases, given to cancer patients. 

Opioids include: 

  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Heroin
  • Tramadol 

Fentanyl and morphine are usually prescribed by doctors, while heroin is simply an illegal drug sold on the streets. Due to their high potential for addiction, a lot of people have become addicted to this street substance; more than 46,000 people who abuse opiates in the United States have died from overdoses in 2018.

With the continuous usage of these street drugs, the body develops a tolerance, causes the drug to become less effective, and often results in the user increasing the dosage in order to keep getting the ‘high’ feeling that comes with use. Sometimes it gets so severe that the user begins to see it as the only means of survival, thereby neglecting other aspects of what their body needs.


  • Weight Loss as a Side Effect of Drug Usage


Weight loss might be instigated by a variety of abuse of substances. This is a case where substances interfere with the host’s organs or metabolism as well as hijack their mind and shift their priorities. Simply put, when your primary attention is on taking drugs, people often develop bad eating habits (such as missing meals, or eating nutrient-deficient foods.)

According to new research from the University of Cambridge, chronic cocaine use may reduce the body’s ability to store fat. Street drugs play similar roles when it comes to weight loss. Weight loss is a typical symptom of cocaine, methamphetamine, as well as MDMA substance abuse. 

These stimulants are frequently appetite suppressants and can alter how calories and fat are processed. According to several studies, cocaine addiction affects the way your body processes and stores fat. Scientists aren’t sure why this happens, but evidence indicates that it does. 

Sometimes, some of these psychoactive drugs aid weight loss by increasing the body’s metabolism rate which helps in the digesting of food fast. Methamphetamine for instance increases the speed at which various biological processes occur as a stimulant. Heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, alertness, and body temperature all rise after using meth. Because all of these processes need energy, meth users may burn calories more quickly than non-users.

Oftentimes, excess intake of substances hinders the need to eat and take care of oneself. These drugs send signals to the brain, making it unaware of hunger and the need to eat something. Also, continuous intake of the drug poses the risk of organ issues and even HIV thereby leading to weight loss.

Hallucinogens like datura or jimson weed also cause weight loss. Some symptoms could include vomiting and nausea which could cause weight loss by influencing your appetite and fat intake.

weight loss from drug use

Seeking Help for Substance Use Disorders in Southern California


Weight loss from drug use can be a tricky issue to navigate considering the different perspectives to it. This is more so since many of these substances produce the ripple effect of weight loss either in a healthy or unhealthy way, often with long-term effects that may be irreversible. But what determines how much of a health problem it is, is the presence of a doctor and a proper prescription. 

The best way to lose weight is by eating healthy and consistent exercise. In certain cases, medications are necessary and very helpful, but in the event, you or someone you love has become addicted to drugs that cause weight loss call 855-953-1345, and a member of the Opus Health team will talk to you about drug addiction treatment program options available to you. 

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