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Drug addiction and weight loss affect a wide range of people. A large population of young girls, adult women, gay men, and others want to be thin without having to diet and exercise. For years women have lived with the pressure to be as thin as a Vogue or runway model. Many modern advertisements and media campaigns portray the ideal man as lean, muscular, and fat-free, making men feel much the same way that women have over the years.
One of the reasons more young girls and women are turning to drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine is to lose weight. There is also a perception that using drugs such as cocaine and meth make people more productive. When people use a stimulant drug, it initially makes them feel like they have more energy and more ability to manage work or other demands in their life.
David Raynes of the National Drug Prevention Alliance said cocaine use could kill and cause facial disfigurement.
"I fear that women are using drugs as an excuse for attempts at slimming, much like women say they smoke in an effort to keep their weight down," said Mr. Raynes. "But it is a cop- out and women should be aware of the very real dangers."
Doctors say cocaine acts as an appetite suppressant to such an extent that it can make users vulnerable to malnutrition. Long-term use can result in mental health conditions ranging from mild depression to the extremes of cocaine psychosis with symptoms similar to schizophrenia. Like all stimulants, it can also lead to heart problems
Dr. Harry Brandt is the director of the center for eating disorders at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital in Baltimore. He said cocaine is a potent stimulant compound that releases neurochemicals in the brain as well as increasing metabolism in the body. This results in an increased heart rate and suppression of appetite.
"They feel a powerful sense of euphoria, but then there's this secondary effect for some, which is weight loss. That becomes a reinforcement of their cocaine use," Brandt said.
Brandt said he's not surprised that some young women would use a dangerous drug to lose weight, because they live in a thin-obsessed world.
"Our culture, with its emphasis on thinness, recruits people to do things they shouldn't do -- excessive dieting, excessive exercise, and now, in the case of cocaine, excessive drug use," he said.
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