Weight Loss Surgery’s Impact on Alcoholism

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Can weight loss surgery increase the use of alcohol? For years the public heard conflicting answers to this question. Some experts say the surgery plays no role in alcohol consumption; others say the procedure causes increased alcohol cravings. Tired of the speculation, experts from Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center set out to answer the question once and for all.

Unlike previous researchers, the Beth Israel study was able to establish a solid link between alcohol abuse and weight loss surgery. In fact, the statistics suggest more than half of all high-risk drinkers are less likely to report dangerous drinking behaviors after weight loss surgery. Detailed results were later published in the medical journal Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases.

Chain Reaction

Medical experts know obesity and depression are intertwined. Those who suffer from clinical depression often turn to food for a sense of comfort. Unfortunately, emotional eating can pack on the pounds, quickly turning into obesity. This creates a never ending cycle, forever linking addiction and weight.

Weight Loss Surgery and Alcohol Consumption

The Beth Israel study is the first to show that alcohol abuse actually improves after weight loss surgery. In fact, previous studies point to an increased risk of alcohol misuse after weight loss surgery, citing a low alcohol tolerance and a longer recovery time after drinking alcohol.

Researchers conducted in-depth patient interviews before undergoing weight loss surgery. Study participants were asked how often they drank alcohol in the previous year, average quantity of alcoholic beverages consumed each day, and number of binge drinking sessions over the past month. Results of this data were used to identify high-risk drinkers and alcoholism.

The group was evaluated again one and two years after surgery. Among the most interesting results:

One Year Post-Surgery

  • Two-thirds of the gastric bypass patients were no longer high-risk drinking
  • Half of the Lap-Band patients were no longer high-risk drinking

Two Years Post-Surgery

  • Half of the gastric bypass patients continued practicing alcohol abstinence and were no longer considered addicts
  • Almost three-quarters of the Lap-Band patients continued practicing alcohol abstinence and were no longer considered addicts

According to the research, a small number of patients (7 percent) reported an increase in alcohol use post-surgery, though none of them were initially labeled high-risk or addicted.

If you or someone you know is recovering from alcohol abuse, find the right alcohol treatment facility in your area and get help today. Call us at 1-888-319-2606 Who Answers? and speak to a recovery adviser.

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