A mother is campaigning for legislative changes after her teenage daughter had to be hospitalized for taking an extremely high amount of laxatives. The mother, Carolyn Jones, wants to bump up the age at which a person can buy laxatives and restrict the amount of the drug a person can buy at one time.
Jones says her 16-year-old daughter, and many other young girls, take laxatives to help keep their weight down.
“Sarah took laxatives and was constantly exercising,” Jones told the Liverpool Echo. "She would say she was going into town and would walk there and walk back, anything to try to help her lose weight. We became aware of the laxatives when she collapsed twice, the second time at home, and it turned out she had taken a whole packet – all 28.”
Jones admits her daughter has anorexia, but says girls without eating disorders abuse laxatives, too.
“It isn’t just people with eating disorders this affects,” she says. “Young girls will eat what they want because they just think they can take laxatives afterwards to control their weight. What they don’t realize is that, eventually, it messes up their system.”
Due to U.K. law, Jones says, her daughter is able to walk into stores and buy as many laxative packs as she wishes.
“We found hundreds of packets stashed all over,” she says. “And it came to light that anyone of any age can buy as many as they like at any one stage. Sarah was going into the local Tesco in her school uniform and buying packets and packets of laxatives without anyone asking any questions... but then they don’t have to.”
Jones' solution? She wants laxatives to be sold with the same restrictions as paracetamol – a common fever-relief medicine. In the U.K., stores are only allowed to sell one 16-tablet pack of paracetamol at a time to a customer.
“It is really quite simple,” she argues. “I want them taken off the shelves or treated in the same way as paracetamol. I know it won’t stop people getting hold of them – like the painkilling tablets, you could simply go to shop after shop – but it would make it more difficult.”