It is possible to become too dependent upon laxatives in order to achieve bowel movements; the bowels relax with repeated use of laxatives and constipation worsens.
Some types of laxatives cause a staining of the bowel walls and some doctors believe overuse of these types can lead to colon cancer. There can be problems with heart rhythm due to loss of fluids and electrolytes in very severe cases (where someone is taking laxatives multiple times each day), and severe weight loss can occur as well. Regular use of some laxatives (Correctol, Ex-Lax, Feen-a-Mint) may interfere with your body's absorption of vitamin D and calcium; this can weaken the bones.
Potassium loss can occur in cases of laxative or enema overuse.
Many people who are dependent on laxatives feel that they must keep on using them because otherwise they become very constipated. A natural way to break this cycle involves eating 1-2 pieces of dried fruit a day, drinking at least 6 glasses of water a day, exercising daily, and stopping all laxative use. There may be no bowel movement for several days, and it may be very hard, but after that the body should settle down to some sort of schedule. It is not necessary to have bowel movements every day; so long as the stools are soft, things are working normally. If dried fruit is not what you like to eat, apples are a good alternative. If, after 2 weeks, you are not feeling any better, go see your doctor. There are some medical conditions that are associated with chronic constipation, which you should be checked for if diet changes do not help.
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