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Alcohol abuse more likely after bariatric surgery, says study

Alcohol abuse more likely after bariatric surgery, says study

20 December | 0 Comments | By Rachael

Gastric bypass or Roux-en-Y is one of the most widespread types of weight-loss surgeries in the United States of America. Surgeons resort to this surgery when diet and exercise do not work for someone or when someone struggles with a serious health issue due to their weight. However, according to a recent research, individuals undergoing this type of surgery are at an increased risk of developing a substance use disorder (SUD), especially alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Dependent on factors like age, gender, history of substance abuse and smoking, the risk manifests majorly after the first year of surgery. The study results, presented at the 29th annual meeting of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) in December 2018, also revealed that individuals who used opiates chronically before the surgery continued to do so even after the procedure. Lead study investigator Cameron Risma shared that a lot of bariatric surgery patients were seen seeking treatment for addiction at detox facilities and some went after several years of the surgery.

Bariatric surgery patients five times more likely to develop AUD

For the study, the researchers carried out a PsychINFO and Web of Science search for articles published from 1996-2018, correlating SUD with gastric bypass. They came across a 2013 study that followed 4000 obese patients and found that there was a five time higher risk of receiving a diagnosis of AUD in people who underwent bariatric surgery in the follow-up period of 8 to 22 years.

In addition, a 2012 study revealed that the prevalence of AUD increased by 9.6 percent in the second postoperative year in comparison to the first year, where it was 7.3 percent. A negligible difference was found between the preoperative (7.6 percent) and postoperative (7.3 percent) year. The study also identified variables, like a history of AUD, smoking, regular alcohol use, male gender, recreational drug use, gastric bypass surgery, low sense of belonging and younger age, that contributed to the risk.

Further, two systematic reviews revealed that nearly 8 percent of the patients were chronic opiate users at the time of their surgery and nearly all of them continued the use even after the procedure.

Researchers suggest “transfer of addiction” as cause

Risma shared that the exact reason behind this trend is unknown, however, it is hypothesized that there is an addiction transfer. When one is obese, they binge on food, however, after the surgery since they cannot binge on food, they resort to substance use to cope with the negative emotional state of their minds.

Another hypothesis, based on the results from the positron emission tomography (PET) scans, credits neurobiological mechanisms for these changes. Both binge eating and IV alcohol infusion produce dopamine and reduced D2 receptors. Both these conditions have been found to be true in individuals with addiction and weight issues.

The third hypothesis is that after a gastric bypass surgery, pharmacokinetic changes occur in the body which increase sensitivity towards alcohol because of which even a small amount of alcohol can reach high blood alcohol concentration levels. People get a buzz even with a single drink, but they continue drinking the amount that they used to and gradually develop an addiction.

These results have been consistent with only gastric bypass surgeries and not with any other type of bariatric surgeries.

Road to recovery

Developing an addiction is easy, and it is even easier for someone, who has undergone a bariatric surgery. However, if addicted to any substance, be it alcohol or opioids, it is important to seek professional help at a detox center, where the preliminary step to the treatment of any addiction can be performed. Chose a detox center that is well-equipped with all the conveniences that make the path to sobriety easy, thus paving the way for a successful and lasting recovery.

If you or someone you know is looking for detox centers in Texas, the Detox Facilities Texas can help. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-671-4308 or chat online with an expert at our live online chat for detoxification to know about evidence-based rapid detox programs in Texas.