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Comprehensive, Evidence-based Guide to Effects of Drugs and Alcohol on Weight Gain or Loss

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The prospect of weight gain frequently discourages people from quitting, but those who do not quit risk suffering from even more serious conditions such as [13, 16]:. To be clear, the risks associated with smoking far outweigh the possible weight gain that may occur if an individual quits smoking. Furthermore, with support and discipline many people have successfully quit smoking without experiencing significant weight gain. Avoiding smoking altogether is one of the best ways to prevent unhealthy weight loss or gain.

Recreational, illicit, and prescription medication all influence various mental processes. Certain drugs may cause temporary cognitive impairments after taking just a single dose.

If this happens a person may forget to eat properly, begin to lose weight and develop dangerously low blood sugar. Individuals who begin to abuse drugs may eventually suffer from permanent impairments in brain activity as well as physical changes that lead to dramatic weight loss and poor health.

Depressants refer to substances that can slow normal processes in the body and reduce physical activity by altering the manner in which the brain sends and receives signals. Alcohol, marijuana cannabis and opiates such as morphine, codeine, heroin, methadone, hydrocodone e. Lortab, Norco and oxycodone e.

OxyContin are all categorized here as depressants. Codeine, morphine, methadone, Hydrocodone and OxyContin are all opiates that can be prescribed by a physician to treat intense pain or certain painful conditions e. Methadone is even prescribed for some people who are addicted to heroin in order to help them overcome their opiate dependence or addiction [17].

If the person abruptly stops taking the opiate, serious withdrawal symptoms may be experienced. To mitigate this uncomfortable period of withdrawal, people frequently undergo medically supervised detoxification as an initial step of substance abuse treatment. Although opiates are commonly prescribed to treat pain, their use can quickly translate to misuse due to the sense of euphoria that people tend to experience after taking this type of drug.

It is this feeling of euphoria that generally leads to opiate dependence and addiction in many people [18]. To varying degrees, the narcotic analgesics in the opiate class can cause side effects that include:. Side effects such as these can lead to a decrease in appetite, slowed digestion and weight loss, over time.

In addition, opiate dependence and, especially, addiction can often result in dramatic weight loss when people begin to engage in drug seeking behavior more often than eating properly. Heroin is a particularly dangerous opiate that is highly addictive. It is usually purchased on the street as opposed to abused prescription opiates. Similar to other drugs in this class, its users may display erratic drug seeking behavior, altered eating habits and weight loss if it is taken regularly [19].

Heroin abusers may experience a brief period of euphoria that is followed by confusion and drowsiness. Long-term opiate abuse also leads to extensive organ damage and disease, which is typically associated with weight loss. Marijuana, as a recreational drug, is among the most commonly used depressants by adolescents [20].

Excessive marijuana use alters mental processes such as memory and thinking. Most people experience short-term memory problems that may become permanent if a prolonged period of drug abuse starts. Memory problems may result in dietary changes and weight loss. However, a number of individuals who take marijuana experience a subjective increase in appetite that is frequently referred to as the munchies. This may cause overeating and weight gain.

Concentration, hand and eye coordination and reasoning problems may also develop due to marijuana use and this may make it difficult for people to maintain a healthy diet. Long-term problems that may arise from marijuana use include depression and organ damage, especially if marijuana is taken with alcohol. These types of health problems are often associated with fluctuations in weight.

Drugs with stimulant effects — caffeine, ecstasy MDMA , cocaine and methamphetamines e. Stimulants can alter certain mental processes, with people often failing to recognize the homeostatic urges of hunger or dehydration.

When stimulants are abused, this effect could result in weight loss and other, more lethal health consequences. Ecstasy is a commonly taken illicit drug that is typically sold on the streets. A serious problem that is associated with the purchase of ecstasy involves not knowing whether the drug is made up of a pure product or a combination of other harmful substances. Commonly reported adulterant substances include amphetamine, ephedrine and over-the-counter cold remedies such as pseudoephedrine and dextromethorphan DXM.

Taking just one dose of ecstasy can cause harmful side effects such as [21]:. The long-term abuse of ecstasy may result in serious muscle tissue damage and the release of muscle enzymes into the blood. These large proteins can deposit in the kidneys, leading to damage or overt renal failure. Stimulants such as ecstasy often make people feel as if they have high levels of energy and this may prevent them from realizing that they are hungry or have not been drinking enough liquids.

Long-term use may result in weight loss. The relatively long acting effects of ecstasy can elevate body temperature, and an accompanying state of dehydration can become quite serious, if not fatal. As with other psychoactive drugs, changes in mental processes can a host of negative influences on a healthy body weight, especially abused for long periods of time.

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant that increases blood pressure, suppresses the appetite and can cause regular users to eat fewer balanced meals than those who do not use cocaine [22].

Cocaine abuse also inhibits the ability to gauge the amount of fatty foods that are being eaten when feelings of hunger become dire [22]. Side effects such as these lead to irregular eating patterns and weight loss. Drug seeking behavior, which commonly occurs due to cocaine abuse, can also reduce the appetite thereby causing individuals to forget to eat properly and eventually begin to lose weight.

The cessation of prolonged cocaine use leads to an increase in appetite and subsequent weight gain in some individuals. Methamphetamines speed, crystal meth, meth share a number of effect on the mind and body with ecstasy, especially in regard to decreases in appetite and memory function.

Of note, long term abuse of amphetamines may cause a syndrome of depression as well. Each of these side effects may result in unhealthy eating habits, weight loss and, secondarily to depression, even weight gain over time.

Similar to cocaine cessation, the cessation of methamphetamines after a prolonged period of abuse has, in some cases, lead to a rebound appetite increase with resultant weight gain. Hallucinogens dramatically alter the mind and the senses by causing people to experience a variety of sensory hallucinations — often seeing distorted images or objects that are not really there. These types of hallucinations often occur in conjunction with markedly abnormal behavior, anxiety attacks and paranoia.

PCP, LSD, ketamine and magic mushrooms all have the potential to elicit hallucinations or powerful dissociative experiences. People who take large amounts of ecstasy or marijuana may also report episodes of hallucination. Hallucinogens can affect emotions, concentration, memory and thinking ability, as well as cause distorted vision and hearing. Drowsiness, sweating, nausea, vomiting and irregular breathing may also occur [23].

This array of issues, particularly in those who abuse them long-term, can lead to loss of appetite and diminished nutrition and, over time, contribute to unhealthy weight loss. People who begin to take drugs regularly or experiment with drugs may begin to mix them or combine them with alcohol. Mixing drugs with other drugs or alcohol compounds the individual risks inherent to each substance — risks like breathing problems, nausea, vomiting, vertigo, syncope fainting , abnormal or dangerous behavior and ultimately, the risk of overdosing or dying.

Overall, drug abuse alters the mind and body in ways that make it almost impossible to maintain a healthy diet. Poor nutrition leads to serious health problems, and many diseases that may develop secondarily due to drug abuse also have associated weight changes. Dramatic weight loss due to substance abuse increases the risk of suffering from low blood sugar, heart arrhythmias, electrolyte and mineral imbalances, gallstones and alterations in blood pressure.

Health problems such as these can become long-term and life-threatening. Dangerously low blood sugar levels may lead to dizziness, confusion, tremors, trouble speaking or coma, while untreated heart arrhythmias may result in death.

If the heart begins to beat too rapidly, a side effect of certain stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamines, the heart may go into sudden cardiac arrest.

Even if an individual is resuscitated, major organs may become seriously damaged due to cardiac arrest [24]. Losing significant amounts of weight may also result in unhealthy overeating to circumvent feelings of hunger or distress regarding the weight loss.

Repeated starvation, which may result due to drug seeking behavior and other changes in mental processes that often occur concurrently with substance abuse, leads to the release of neurotransmitters that allow people to eat well beyond the satiation point by overriding their feelings of hunger. High blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, kidney disease, respiratory problems, cancer and osteoarthritis are among the many long-term health problems that may develop due to weight gain that is concurrent with substance abuse [25].

In general, the abuse of recreational, illicit, and prescription drugs can all result in similarly disastrous long-term effects on health — with dramatic vacillations in body weight, both up and down. Although various types of effective treatments have been established for substance abuse, it remains one of the leading causes of emergency room visits and death.

This, in part, appears to be because people tend to avoid seeking treatment for at least 10 years after their substance abuse has started [26]. Due to this mismatch between available treatment, and the people who are in desperate need of it, substance abuse continues to be a major public health issue. In addition to causing harmful fluctuations in weight, substance abuse can lead to multiple major organ damage, especially to the kidneys and heart [27].

People who have health problems such as arthritis or diabetes tend to worsen their symptoms and even speed up the progression of their condition through drug abuse, with any associated weight changes potentially compounding the damage done. While not an exhaustive list, a withdrawal syndrome can encompass: Even relatively mild symptoms such as these can make it quite difficult for people to overcome their substance abuse without the guidance of medical and treatment professionals.

On a more serious end of the spectrum, acute alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal can result in dangerous seizures and even death. General Info learn about drugs. Near Me Browse by state. Substance abuse affects metabolism Alcohol disrupts liver function The effects alcohol abuse has on weight The effects of alcohol on maternal nutrition and birth weight Ways to consume alcohol safely and maintain a healthy weight Drug abuse and weight The effects of smoking on weight The effects of drug abuse on weight Depressants Opiates Heroin Marijuana Stimulants Ecstasy Cocaine Methamphetamine Hallucinogens The dangers of mixing drugs Potential long-term effects of substance abuse The importance of substance abuse treatment References.

About the Author Dr. Comprehensive, Evidence-based Guide to Effects of Drugs and Alcohol on Weight Gain or Loss According to the American Psychiatric Association, substance abuse is the excessive use of substances, including alcohol and drugs, that cause an individual to suffer from clinical impairments as well as the dramatic loss of academic, professional, and social skills [1].

Substance abuse affects metabolism Metabolism refers to the way the body breaks down food and uses it for nutrients and energy. Alcohol disrupts liver function Alcohol abuse speeds up metabolism due to the fact that the liver has to work hard to break down the alcohol and remove it from the body [3].

Signs and symptoms that occur when liver damage has reached the late stage include: The effects of alcohol on maternal nutrition and birth weight If alcohol is consumed during pregnancy, it can cause poor nutrition for the mother as well as the unborn baby. Ways to consume alcohol safely and maintain a healthy weight Drinking alcohol occasionally and in moderation usually does not cause health problems, but consuming large amounts on a regular basis frequently constitutes alcohol abuse and ushers in a number of different health problems.

Here are some helpful strategies for consuming alcohol safely: Drug abuse and weight Taking recreational, illegal, and even prescription drugs inappropriately can lead to substance abuse disorders.

The effects of smoking on weight The nicotine contained in cigarette smoke is itself an addictive psychoactive substance. The prospect of weight gain frequently discourages people from quitting, but those who do not quit risk suffering from even more serious conditions such as [13, 16]: The effects of drug abuse on weight Recreational, illicit, and prescription medication all influence various mental processes.

Depressants Depressants refer to substances that can slow normal processes in the body and reduce physical activity by altering the manner in which the brain sends and receives signals. Opiates Codeine, morphine, methadone, Hydrocodone and OxyContin are all opiates that can be prescribed by a physician to treat intense pain or certain painful conditions e.

To varying degrees, the narcotic analgesics in the opiate class can cause side effects that include: Heroin Heroin is a particularly dangerous opiate that is highly addictive. Marijuana Marijuana, as a recreational drug, is among the most commonly used depressants by adolescents [20]. Taking just one dose of ecstasy can cause harmful side effects such as [21]: Cocaine Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant that increases blood pressure, suppresses the appetite and can cause regular users to eat fewer balanced meals than those who do not use cocaine [22].

Methamphetamine Methamphetamines speed, crystal meth, meth share a number of effect on the mind and body with ecstasy, especially in regard to decreases in appetite and memory function. Hallucinogens Hallucinogens dramatically alter the mind and the senses by causing people to experience a variety of sensory hallucinations — often seeing distorted images or objects that are not really there. The dangers of mixing drugs People who begin to take drugs regularly or experiment with drugs may begin to mix them or combine them with alcohol.

Potential long-term effects of substance abuse Dramatic weight loss due to substance abuse increases the risk of suffering from low blood sugar, heart arrhythmias, electrolyte and mineral imbalances, gallstones and alterations in blood pressure. The importance of substance abuse treatment Although various types of effective treatments have been established for substance abuse, it remains one of the leading causes of emergency room visits and death.

References American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: Find out what is your recommended caloric intake for a day according to your activity to maintain, lose or gain weight? What is your recommended daily intake of different nutrients to maintain your health?

The answers for all these questions and more are present in our online calories requirement calculators. This calorie intake calculator will help you, if you are trying to lose weight and control obesity.

Obviously, if you are trying to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you take in. The best way and the accepted way for weight loss is to lose weight over a long run, making slight intake reduction changes and slight increases in calorie burning. To gain weight, calories are added per day for each pound you want to gain every week. For a more balanced approach to a 1 pound per week weight loss, increase your activity. Decrease calorie intake by calories per day and exercising to expend use up the other calories.

This approach prevents a decrease in your metabolic rate and promotes increased lean muscle mass. Once you know ho many calories you should take in a day, stick to a uniform diet and exercise plan till you achieve the desired results.

Your daily calorie requirement will vary from day to day and slight adjustments might be needed in your exercise and diet to compensate those variations. Adjust your calorie intake per day accordingly! Use our calorie intake calculator to calculate the number of calories you need to maintain weight, gain or lose weight.

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