Phentermine (e.g., Adipex-P, Pro-Fast) is the most common weight loss medication prescribed by health providers in the United States to help patients lose weight. It’s primarily used for persons who are obese for medical issues related to their condition. It is in a category of drugs known as sympathomimetic amines.
Experts aren’t exactly sure how phentermine works in the brain. However, it appears to have several actions, including stimulating the release of the feel-good neurochemicals dopamine and adrenaline by inhibiting their reuptake, which is thought to account for its ability to suppress appetite.
Phentermine is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a schedule IV controlled substance and is intended for short-term use. It is considered to have a relatively low potential for abuse, but doing so is certainly possible. It’s typically only prescribed for people with a body mass index (BMI) of above 30, suggesting obesity. When a person’s appetite is suppressed, they tend to eat less, and thus, over time, weight loss may be achieved.
It is a stimulant drug that can induce a high, especially when ingested in excessive doses. Even with a legitimate prescription, those who take phentermine can potentially misuse it. Misuse includes using the drug more often or in larger amounts than directed, without a prescription, or by tampering with it and administering it in a way it was not intended, such as snorting.
Dangers of Snorting Phentermine
Individuals who snort phentermine may do so by crushing pills and inhaling the residual power into the nose, similar to cocaine and other drugs of abuse. When a person does so, they are usually seeking enhanced feelings of well-being and energy.
Unfortunately, snorting (also known as insufflation) any powdered substance for any length of time can lead to multiple health problems that may be severe. These include the following:
- Damaged cilia (nostril hairs)
- Difficulty swallowing
- Persistent infections
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Chronic runny nose
- Nasal obstruction
- Nasal deformity
- Collapsed nasal passages
- Nasal deformity
- Nasal region bone loss
- Perforated septum
- Worsened allergies
- Nose whistles
- Increased snoring
- Decreased sense of smell
- Foul odors
- Toxic shock
- High fever
- Lung complications
- Convulsions and seizures
- Respiratory distress
- Heart arrhythmia
- Blood circulation issues
- High blood pressure
When phentermine is abused or misused, it can lead to dependence or full-blown addiction. If this occurs, they will experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when they try to discontinue or curb use.
Withdrawal symptoms from phentermine use tend to peak within the first 48 hours and wane over a week. Common withdrawal symptoms related to phentermine include the following:
- Lack of energy
- High blood pressure
- Stomach pain
- Menstrual problems
- Memory loss
- Heart palpitations
If you are using phentermine regularly at a high dose or via tampering, you will be at risk for more severe problems, including the following:
- Congestive heart failure
- Cardiac arrest
- Nerve damage
Remember that your health provider has prescribed this medication because they have determined that the benefit to you is likely more significant than the risk of side effects. However, if you are abusing phentermine in any way, including snorting, those benefits may be undermined, and more unwanted effects may occur.
A Word on Polysubstance Abuse
Persons who abuse phentermine may be more likely to use or abuse other potentially intoxicating substances. This disorder is known as polysubstance abuse. When this occurs, the substances ingested may interact adversely, cause unpredictable health complications, and compromise the therapeutic effects of prescription medication being taken.
Substances commonly abused combined with phentermine products include alcohol, amphetamines, and other stimulants, such as cocaine. Doing so is likely fueled by a person’s desire to achieve euphoria or enhance or negate the effects of one or more of the substances involved.
Mixing multiple intoxicating substances is risky and is never a good idea unless approved by a doctor. Persons engaging in this form of substance use should seek professional treatment as soon as possible.
Treatment for Drug Addiction
If you have been abusing or misusing phentermine and have found you cannot quit doing so on your own, you are urged to consider seeking professional help. Just Believe Recovery offers integrated, evidence-based programs and activities intended to treat alcohol and drug addiction.
Our programs feature therapeutic resources vital for recovery, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, substance abuse education, peer support groups, experiential therapy, aftercare planning, and more.