Gastric Bypass Increases Risk Of Alcohol Abuse

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Defining gastric bypass surgery

Gastric bypass surgery became a common and effective way of weight loss for morbidly obese individuals to treat obesity and associated complications. The surgery limits the body’s ability to absorb calories by decreasing the stomach size and attaching it to the lower part of the intestine, making people feel full faster.

Lifestyle changes after gastric bypass

Gastric bypass is a life changing surgery. Not only a person looks and feels different after losing all this extra weight but one usually changes his or her habits as well. After gastric bypass a person’s eating habits change completely. Firstly, a person cannot eat as much and most gastric bypass patients barely tolerate fast food. Besides, people tend to become more sociable, outgoing and physically active. However, despite the significant benefits of gastric bypass surgery, the risk of developing behavioral diseases such as alcoholism increases. Why?

Trading food addiction to alcohol

Alcohol goes straight into the intestine where it is absorbed rapidly. Unfortunately, some obese people may suffer from addiction transfer, potentially trading a food addiction to alcohol or a drugs abuse problem. In addition, there is evidence that the highest rate of postoperative alcoholism is seen in patients who displayed binge-eating behavior before surgery.

Changes in alcohol metabolism

Several published medical studies indicate that alcohol metabolism changes after bariatric surgery. Patients respond differently, both physically and psychologically. Therefore, they are more sensitive to the effects of low doses of alcohol. These patients experience different symptoms and they might not recognize that they have consumed too much alcohol. Gastric bypass patients’ blood alcohol levels rise higher and stay up for longer than if these patients had consumed the same amount of alcohol before the surgery. It is believed that because of these reasons, alcohol consumption can lead to alcohol abuse and dependence.

Alcohol may lead to weight regain

Alcohol consumption after gastric bypass surgery may lead to weight regain. Studies have suggested that alcohol consumption is associated with greater caloric intake, even when adjusted for the calories in the alcoholic drink. Alcohol increases caloric intake and increases lipid consumption. However, calories consumed in liquids do not bring the same feeling of fullness as the calories consumed from solid foods. Alcohol is known to relax the lower gastroesophageal sphincter and increase gastric emptying, which allows a person to eat much more than normal amounts of food. For all of these reasons, alcohol consumption can potentially lead to weight gain and must be advised and treated with caution by bariatric patients

Alcohol consumption may double risk

Gastric bypass surgery reduces the risk of mortality from obesity, but alcohol use during the postoperative period can impact the patients’ health. Patients that are undergoing gastric bypass surgery or other bariatric surgery must be warned that they could experience a major difference in their capacity to handle alcohol after their surgery. Alcohol abuse may affect the vitamin and mineral status and liver function which are already potential problems for the surgery patients. Also, alcohol abuse can lead to weight gain and increases the risk of automobile accidents, alcohol poisoning and encephalopathy. Patients should be screened for alcohol problems before and after the surgery and told about the risks in order to stay healthy.