Weight Loss Surgery Increases Drug And Alcohol Consumption, Study Claims

A new study shows that men and women who undergo weight-loss surgeries are at a greater risk for substance abuse. Twenty-three men and 132 women filled out questionnaires that detailed eating, smoking and recreational drug use habits before and after their surgeries. All patients had undergone commonly performed weight-loss surgeries, such as gastric-bypass and gastric banding.

The report suggests that since the surgery candidates suffered from binge-eating disorders, they “display addictive personalities, therefore after their weight loss surgery, they may replace overeating with a different substance.” Specifically, those who had undergone gastric bypass surgery were at a much greater risk for alcohol abuse.

Dr. Alexis Conason is a researcher at the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center, and notes, “This study does not mean that everybody who undergoes gastric bypass will become an alcoholic.” She also notes that it is important to recognize that the study is not examining substance abuse, per se, but mainly increased use of substances such as alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes. This asserts, for example, that those who have undergone surgery are not necessarily more likely to become alcoholics, but may be likely to consume a greater quantity of alcohol than before the surgery.

The study looked at only two types of the 200,000 weight loss surgeries that are performed each year: gastric bypass and gastric banding. Gastric bypass surgery makes the stomach smaller, allowing food to bypass part of the small intestine. Gastic banding, by contrast, involves placing a band around the upper stomach to limit food intake.

Specifically, people who had a type of weight-loss surgery known as gastric bypass were at risk for increased alcohol use after the procedure. Patients are advised to explore this possibility before electing to have weight loss surgery.

Readers: Why do you think that people who undergo weight loss surgery are more likely to develop an increase in drug, alcohol and cigarette usage?