Gastric sleeve surgery has proved to be a life saver for many people suffering from obesity. However, the surgery has lost some of its sheen with several studies pointing to the possibility that a sizeable number of patients may have an increased appetite for alcohol after the surgical procedure.
According to a study by Wendy C. King and coworkers in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people who opt for gastric bypass surgery showed an increase in alcohol consumption two years after surgery. While some of these patients were not heavy drinkers before they underwent the bariatric surgery, the others had not been drinkers at all.
The notice that gastric sleeve surgery is followed by alcoholism had become so big of a concern that it caused Oprah Winfrey to dedicate one of her television shows on this in 2006.
Probing into Gastric Sleeve and Alcoholism
Even though a number of medical researchers claim to have found the link between gastric sleeve surgery and alcohol-addiction after the surgery, many others have attributed alcoholism to factors other than the surgery itself. Let's have a look at some of these factors:
Is it Alcoholism or Merely a Switch from Food-Addiction?
Most obesity-sufferers are addicted to food. After the surgery the addiction to food is transferred into addiction for other substances, one of them being alcohol. Psychologists call this phenomenon "addiction transfer." This means that many people who struggle with compulsive behaviors, such as overeating and substance abuse, often find that they exceed one addiction only to develop another, months or even years later.
Addiction transfer also has a neurological basis which proves that the same biochemical processes are at work in behaviors such as compulsive eating and excess alcohol intake. A study published in The Archives of General Psychiatry in January 2011 examined the neurobiological similarities between behaviors that drive obesity and those that drive substance abuse.
Sometimes, the patient has trouble coping with his emotions or regulating them which leads to compulsive disorders such as overeating. Therefore, even though the eating disorder may be cured after the surgery, the emotional disturbance remains. This leads to others forms of compulsive disorders, such as alcoholism.
Alcoholism after gastric sleeve surgery may also be the result of poor coping skills. Many people with obesity have poor coping skills. In such cases, alcohol may become a coping strategy for such people.
Weight loss surgeries-gastric sleeve surgery, gastric bypass, duodenal switch-have proven to be the most effective treatment for clinical obesity that is not curable by regular lifestyle modification. They are not only the most reliable means of getting rid of excess weight, but also resolve certain obesity-related diseases including high blood pressure and sleep apnea. It is important to study the medical history of the patient, including any instances of substance abuse, and to provide pre-operative counseling to the patient before advising him / her to under a bariatric procedure. It is also important that patients who undergo weight loss surgery should be aware of the risk of alcoholism and other addictive habits that may develop after the surgery.
Despite a weight loss surgery being related to certain risks and complications, bariatric procedures have gained popularity over the years. People are also traveling abroad in hordes to avail affordable weight loss surgeries abroad. Thousands of Americans cross the border every year to undergo.