Substance Abuse Can Result From Weight Loss Surgery
October 16, 2012

Weight Loss Surgery Patients At Higher Risk Of Substance Abuse

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

According to a new study published by Archives of Surgery, patients who undergo weight loss surgery are at an increased risk for substance use.

The researchers found that patients who underwent surgery such as laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery were at an increased risk for alcohol use, drug use and cigarette smoking.

"Studies have shown that drugs, alcohol, and food trigger similar responses in the brain and that bariatric surgery candidates whose condition has been diagnosed as binge-eating disorder (BED) display addictive personalities similar to individuals addicted to substances," the authors wrote in the journal. "Therefore, alcohol and drugs (including nicotine) are likely to substitute for overeating following WLS (weight loss surgery)."

The team assessed questionnaire responses from 155 patients who underwent weight loss surgery, and were recruited from an information session at a bariatric surgery center.

Patients underwent either laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery (n=100) or laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery (n=55).

Each of the patients completed questionnaires to assess eating behaviors and substance use prior to the operation and at one, three, six, 12, and 24 months after surgery.

The authors found that patients reported an immediate decrease in frequency of substance use following weight loss surgery.

They also saw that these improvements were not maintained by the 3-month follow-up, and that there was a significant increase in the frequency of substance use from the time of surgery to the 24-month follow-up.

Participants reported significant increases in the frequency of substance use 24 months following surgery.

Those patients who underwent laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery reported a significant increase in frequency of alcohol use from the time before surgery to 24 months after.

"Based on the present study, undergoing RYGB surgery appears to increase the risk for alcohol use following WLS," the authors conclude in the journal. "Risks and benefits should be weighted when recommending LRYGB surgery to patients who may be at increased risk of developing problems with alcohol after WLS, such as those with a personal or family history of alcohol abuse or dependence."