Gastric Bypass Leads to Higher Risk of Alcoholism

Gastric bypass is the most common surgery undergone by obese people, helping them to lose weight by shrinking the stomach, which in turn can reduce diabetes and heart disease — yet a new study reveals a 50% increase in the risk for alcohol abuse. An additional 2,000 people will develop drinking problems as a result of this surgery each year.

In a study released this past Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association,   researchers from the University of Pittsburgh found that more than than 2/3 of gastric bypass patients were at risk of alcoholism following surgery; two years after the surgery, 103 of 996 patients had drinking problems, which is a doubled increase from before the surgery.

Why is this? According to NYDailyNews:

  • Gastric bypass surgery confines the body’s ability to absorb calories, and so after the surgery, alcohol is metabolized differently and the effects are felt faster, and altogether differently than before.
  • Researchers believe obese people are often isolated in social settings because of their weight, and “drinking often increases when patients have slimmed down and pursue a more active social life.

Patients may be more sensitive to alcohol, so they should be aware of and pay close attention to their drinking habits following surgery… and doctors warn that people should not even undergo gastric bypass surgery if they have problems with substance use and/or abuse — instead, consider lap band surgery, as studies show that only 5% of patients suffered from alcohol use disorders two years after surgery.

Have you or anyone you’ve known undergone a weight loss surgery? 

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