Certain Weight Loss Surgeries push towards Alcohol Abuse

Acording to a new study by researchers the University of Pittsburgh, Adults who undergo a common type of bariatric surgery to lose weight appear to have a significantly higher risk of abusing alcohol two years after the procedure.

The Study:

The study investigated alcohol consumption and abuse in nearly 2,000 patients across the United States. Researchers surveyed bariatric patients on their alcohol consumption 30 days before surgery, then again one and two years after surgery.

The Sample for the study constituted this way — Nearly 70 percent of the participants had gastric bypass surgery – which reduces the side of the stomach and shortens the intestine, 25 percent had laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding surgery, which uses a band to make the stomach smaller, and the remaining 5 percent had other, less-common surgeries.

The In the research, the researchers used, what is known as the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification (AUDIT) test, developed by the World Health Organization to identify symptoms of alcohol use disorders, which include alcohol abuse and dependence, or alcoholism. The participants were categorized as having an alcohol-related disorder if they had at least one symptom of dependence. Symptoms of dependence included not being able to stop drinking after having started or not being able to remember what happened after a night of drinking.

The Findings:

7 percent of participants who had gastric bypass surgery reported symptoms of alcohol disorders before surgery. That rate increased to 10.7 percent two years after surgery – a relative increase of more than 50 percent.

Though a prior problem with drinking was one of the best predictors of having a disorder later, more than half of the participants who developed disorders two years after surgery did not have a prior history of alcohol abuse.

The findings has given support to the view that,

“if you give gastric bypass patients a standard amount of alcohol, they reach a higher peak alcohol level, they reach the level more quickly, and they take longer to return to a sober state – they’re experiencing alcohol differently after surgery,”

The Reason:

“It could be a combination of the change in alcohol sensitivities coupled with higher levels of drinking” said study researcher Mary King, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh.

In contrast, among patients who had lap band surgery, about 5 percent suffered from alcohol use disorders two years after surgery, which was similar to pre-surgery rates.

How to stop oneself from sliding down to Alcohol Abuse:

1) Have social support

2) Those who had engaged in recreational drug or alcohol abuse in the past, those who suffered from depressive symptoms, men, and young adults are more likely to slide down to Alcohol Abuse.

3) Keep vigilant to ‘addiction shifting’ – such as a switch from binge eating disorder to alcoholism. Notably, the researchers did not find any evidence that a prior history of binge eating symptoms increased a patient’s risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.

4) Doctors need to educate the patients more on what needs to be done, which includes educating patients about the potential risks and benefits of bariatric surgery, said researchers. That is a mere pre-operative discussion may not be enough, considering the majority of patients did not show an increase in alcohol consumption until two years after surgery.

What the Study findings don’t point at:

The study shouldn’t be used to suggest that gastric bypass surgery isn’t a good weight loss strategy, but the study has education value, which throws more light and breakthroughs in the said area.

The study was published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It was funded by the National Institutes of Health.