Does alcohol abuse increase after weight-loss surgery?

Is it true that the rate of alcohol abuse increases after weight-loss surgery? What causes this?

asked 03 Jul '12, 19:44

greenpea's gravatar image

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Drinking alcohol for stress relief, relaxation, or just to "feel good" can also create dependencies that are difficult to reverse.


Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse can be a result of many psychological and physical issues people struggle to fully confront.

According to a recent study of nearly 2,000 recipients of weight-loss surgery, the rate of alcohol abuse rose from 7% to 10.7% (a 50% increase) in those who had a procedure called roux-en-Y, which involves shrinking the stomach and bypassing part of the small intestine. Wendy King, lead author of the study and an epidemiologist at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health, states that as a result of the procedure alcohol does not stay in the stomach as long, is absorbed more rapidly in the intestines, and is eliminated from the body at a slower rate, thus causing the blood alcohol level to remain elevated longer than in those who have not had the procedure.

It should be noted that the prevalence of alcohol addiction in the general population is estimated to be in the neighborhood of 7%. The increase from that base figure in people having the roux-en-Y procedure can reasonably be attributed to the effects of the procedure on the digestive tract.

Since it is known that greater exposure to alcohol leads to alcohol dependency, all else being equal, it is reasonable to surmise that the rapid rise, higher levels of blood alcohol over time, and prolonged elimination result in increased exposure that leads to dependency in some people.

A similar procedure, that involves restricting the volume of the stomach with a band but does not affect the small intestine, had no discernible effect on alcohol abuse.


answered 28 Jul '12, 18:19

whatmesober's gravatar image

accept rate: 33%

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Asked: 03 Jul '12, 19:44

Seen: 2,525 times

Last updated: 28 Jul '12, 18:26