Weaning off Phentermine: 6 things I wish I’d known

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If you’re weaning off phentermine, there are a few things you ought to know. Oh, wait. You want to know why know how to wean off phentermine? Well, it’s because when I first started to lose weight, I didn’t do it all by sheer willpower, diet, and exercise. I used phentermine, and it was pretty awesome. But there are a few side effects that you should know about as you wean off.

After going on the low glycemic index diet for three months, I plateaued. I stood still at having lost 30 pounds. I wasn’t gaining weight back, but I wasn’t losing any extra, either.

And for someone still above 250, it was disheartening. I hadn’t lost any size in clothes–I was still wearing XXL or XXXL shirts and 42-44 waist pants. It was hard for people to tell I had lost any weight at all. And that really matters at that stage of weight loss.

So I went to the doctor and started a physician-monitored, medical weight loss program. I took vitamin injections once a week and went on a medium dose of phentermine (or you may have heard them called adipex diet pills before, too).

Phentermine, the generic version of adipex, is similar in composition to an amphetamine. It’s an upper that gives you tons of energy, a lack of appetite, and some pretty severe side effects. But for the time I was on adipex for weight loss, I loved it. Weight just melted off, I was so rarely hungry, and I had the energy of a 4 year old on sugar. It was a miracle drug for me, and it took a long, long time for me to even think about weaning off phentermine.

Breaking a weight loss plateau with Adipex

I started taking the diet pill in October 2010 (because I found out that my health insurance covered the regular doctor visits). Once I had that delicious phentermine pumping through my veins, I felt as powerful as Bane on venom. The pounds melted away. And I was barely exercising at all. Maybe two hours of light tennis with my wife a week. Within 12 months, I had dropped to 203 pounds (from 270-280ish) and weaned myself off the drug.

Yep, I had successfully weaned off adipex. In December. Two weeks before Christmas.


Suffice it to say that I gained some of the weight I had lost back. Which was okay. I expected that. Then my dad died in April, and I stress ate myself back up to 230-235ish.

That was not okay.

When I went to the doctor to see about using phentermine again, I was told my blood pressure was too high to risk taking the drug–170/85. I had to lower it before they would even consider it.

So I used some of the money I made from selling my first short story and bought a bike and started cycling around town instead of driving. Once I did that, I started walking places, too. And it only took a week or so of that to get back into using couch-to-5k apps to start running.

I had lost down to about 220 by the time I started running, and I went to the doctor, and my blood pressure was fine–120/60–so she put me back on phentermine, which I decided would be my last round. I would use the extra energy it gave me to build up a running and exercise regimen, get myself into shape, and then drop it for good by fall/winter.

Two full years from the time I popped my first pill, I was weaning off phentermine.

I had hit my goal. When I hit normal BMI (body-mass index), my doctor could no longer legally prescribe the drug to me–which is great because it was beginning to adversely affect me, anyway. My blood-pressure was rising again, and my moods were becoming erratic. Once I made the realization the drug was negatively impacting my life, I was finally able to start weaning off phentermine.

It didn’t take long to wean off phentermine completely, and I have been off the adipex diet pill for years with no adverse effects to my health.

I don’t regret using the drug; it really kickstarted my weight loss. However, I do wish I had done things a bit smarter along the way. My doctor did a good job of telling me about the clinical side of taking it, but it was unlike any other diet pill I had taken before (and I had tried a lot, being a fat guy my entire life). If you’re considering a medical weight loss program, these are a few of the most important tidbits I learned during my program, that weren’t necessarily my in my doctor’s wheelhouse.

  1. You must exercise. You must change your diet. You will lose weight on phentermine if you don’t, but the moment the drugs leave your system, you’ll gain all of it back. And then some. Which is terrible for your body. Phentermine is a crutch, not a solution. You must change your lifestyle and keep it changed. If you don’t, you’re wasting your time.
  2. Phentermine makes you thirsty all the time. ALL THE TIME. I would drink upwards of 100 ounces (yes, 100 ounces) every single day and still be thirsty. The first week, I didn’t realize just how much water was necessary and gave myself kidney stones.
  3. Your mood will fluctuate wildly. One minute, you’ll be as nice as can be. Then you’ll be raging about something truly insignificant. Just watch a few episodes of Breaking Bad, and you’ll see the kind of mood swings amphetamines can cause. Seriously.
  4. You will bounce off the walls for months. You’ll be jittery. You will have more energy than you know what to do with. Then, you won’t notice the energy at all. Do something with it while you can. Start running, get used to exercise, before you have to wean yourself off the drug and don’t have that crutch.
  5. Your blood pressure will rise (but it will go back down when you’re weaning off phentermine, so it’s not a permanent thing). Maybe it will rise a little, maybe a lot. But it will. Keep an eye on your BP, even between doctor visits, or you’ll hurt yourself. That’s why this is a medical weight loss program. (Note: do not buy adipex or phentermine online. It is incredibly dangerous, and you do so at your own risk. Please, please listen to me on this.)
  6. The more weight you lose, the more the drug will affect you–which is why “normal” BMI folks can’t get scripts for it. As I got smaller, I also got moodier, thirstier, and higher blood pressure. Not a good trade-off. Not at all.

The important thing, though, is that I changed my lifestyle. I’m a runner now, I eat hardly any meat, and only enough carbs to get me through my workouts. I do cardio, and I’m starting to take baby-steps into strength training.

The phentermine was just a crutch bridge that helped me to get from one point in my life to another. I used it It was a tool, the same as my running shoes are tools. Remember, phentermine doesn’t effect permanent change–you have to use the boost it gives to change your lifestyle, or you’ll negate the benefits you gain.

Remember that.

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