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We must tighten overthe-counter drug rules; Janet Tansley talks to a mum whose daughter's use of laxatives to lose weight put her in hospital.

Byline: Janet Tansley

LIVERPOOL mum Carolyn Jones is campaigning for a law change on the sale of laxatives after discovering her anorexic daughter was buying hundreds at a time to keep her weight down.

The mum of five was horrified when she found stacks of laxatives hidden all over the house - and learned how easy it was get them.

"We found hundreds of packets stashed all over. And it came to light that anyone of any age can buy as many as they like at any one stage," she says.

"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."

Now Carolyn, 45, a pensions administration from Childwall, is campaigning to have restrictions introduced on laxatives - raising the age of those who can buy them and the amount they can have.

"It is really quite simple. "I want them taken off the shelves or treated in the same way as paracetamol," she stresses. "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."

Carolyn's daughter Sarah, 16, has struggled with anorexia for the last two years.

The illness came to light after the Belvedere pupil started to have panic attacks around October 2012.

Carolyn took her to their doctor who referred her to CAMS, the mental health help service for young people.

"It came out that Sarah had been self-harming although we didn't know about it until February last year She would cut her arms with a razor out of a pencil sharpener.

"As she continued under CAMS the self-harming stopped, but the restricted eating started, although I think that was always there in the background.

"Sarah took laxatives and was constantly exercising. She would say she was going into town and would walk there and walk back, anything to try to help her lose weight," adds carolyn.

"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 of laxatives - all 28.

"She was rushed to A&E and then taken to Alder Hey. Obviously anyone who took 28 laxatives would have stomach cramps and be unwell but when you are already anorexic and dehydrated, it has a more drastic effect.

"We came back home and found more than 150 packets, hidden around the house. At one point we know Sarah bought six packets at once."

Carolyn, who has five children aged between 11 and 22, says Sarah has suffered from depression, the root cause of which has thankfully been identified so that she, her family and the mental health professionals can finally help her to deal with it.

"Being a teenage girl is difficult enough," adds Carolyn, "It took over everyone's lives in the family and we are still fighting against it, but we are getting there."

But the issue of laxatives is something Carolyn isn't going to drop.

"It isn't just people with eating disorders this affects.

"Young girls will eat what they want because they just think they can take laxatives afterwards to control their weight. What they don't realise is that, eventually, it messes up their system.

"I get annoyed too when I look at social media. You see the WAGs and celebrities who talk about how much they've eaten, how 'fat' they are and how they are going to have to train so hard now....

"And they're not fat, they're thin! "Young girls are looking up to these people and they need to be aware of who they are influencing.

"For those with an eating disorder it is more important still that we are all aware. It's a horrific illness - and it isn't helped by the ease with which people can get laxatives."

Carolyn has already appeared on BBC's Watchdog programme - after which the MHRA (The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), which governs the control of such medication, changed the warnings on the pack.

But it needs to go further, says Carolyn.

Wavertree MP Luciana Berger has written to the MHRA in support, and Carolyn is putting together an online petition to get more done.

"I'm not so naive to think more action will stop young girls getting hold of laxatives but it will make it more difficult," concludes Carolyn.

"I want to keep awareness going and the pressure on to try to stop other young girls being able to do what Sarah did.

"As a mum I know the devastation it can cause them and those around them."

Carolyn has set .up a Twitter account to help raise awareness @laxoffshelves

CAPTION(S):

Sarah before and after the anorexia struck | |

| Carolyn Jones wants to | |see laxatives removed from shelves
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 26, 2014
Words:808
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