In Boston, Massachusetts U.S.A, it has recently been brought to the attention of medical professions that up to 17% of people who have the Roux En Y Gastric Bypass surgery can eventually become alcohol dependant approximately two years after surgery. This is almost 10% higher than what is seen in the general population.
Now I am unable to define if this is just the bypass patients or if it is all weight loss surgery patients but from what I can tell it is approximately 70% of the affected sufferers had a Roux En Y, 25% had a Laparoscopic Band and the other 5% had either a Vertical Gastric Sleeve (like myself) or a Duodenal Switch (a very uncommon procedure performed on the super morbidly obese)
I suppose I had better be watching out if there is a possibility of me developing any alcoholic tendencies, however with “my drink” having always been Lager or Cider and the fact I can no longer drink it because of the bubbles, I would hope that I was safe (touching wood with my fingers crossed as I write this) from this very worrying statistic, but I suppose time will tell and having undergone the Vertical Gastric Sleeve as opposed to the RY Gastric Bypass I would hope that my prognosis is not as desperate as the study would have us believe.
This excerpt from the Gastroenterology and Endoscopy News highlights the issue.
The study question adds to the growing body of evidence showing an association between weight loss surgery and alcohol abuse. “There is definitely enough convincing evidence that some patients are at risk for problems with alcohol after weight loss surgery,” said Dr. Stephanie Sogg of Massachusetts General Hospital.
Dr. Sogg pointed out that numerous studies have been published about alcohol use after bariatric surgery, but many have small sample sizes and almost all are retrospective. The studies also use a wide range of assessment methods (i.e., questionnaires and interviews) and have different definitions of alcohol use and abuse, which makes comparison difficult.
Some studies merely look at alcohol use. Others look at high-risk, hazardous or problem drinking, alcohol abuse or dependence. Many studies also don’t make a distinction between three different subgroups: individuals who have alcohol problems at the time of surgery and continue to have problems afterward, recovered substance abusers who relapse after surgery and individuals who develop new-onset alcohol problems after surgery. These are three very clinically distinct subgroups and many studies lump them all together.
Dr. Sogg pointed out that overall, studies have shown that after weight loss surgery, there is an increase in alcohol use, with a higher percentage of patients reporting any alcohol use as well as increased quantities and/or frequencies of alcohol consumption among those who use it.
From these extensive studies, it has been determined that any RY Gastric Bypass patient who regularly has more than three drinks on a typical drinking day, is at serious risk of developing alcohol dependancy. Quite a worrying statistic for sure. There are many friends of mine who will quite happily drink more than three drinks on a daily basis and think nothing of it. I was never really one for that. I tended to avoid the pub through the week and be more of a binge drinker at the weekend. As time passed however I became less and less likely to go out and drink for the sake of drinking and towards the end of my drinking “career” I would find that I was only going to the pub once every three weeks or so and it was more for the social aspect of my life than the drinking which is as we all know a by product of going to licensed premises.
I suppose that there is every possibility that the alcohol abuse could be attributed to an addictive personality but that would be a very individual issue. I was always convinced that I personally had no addictive personality as I could always very easily say no to drink or recreational drugs but maybe my addiction manifested in the desire to eat junk food. There is a history of addiction in my family but it shouldn’t always follow that just because a paternal family member suffered that I should suffer. I’m afraid I do not know enough about the origins of addiction but when I consider the foods I ate, maybe there was a kind of addiction there driving me along with my cravings for the junk food I ate. I suppose it is the same for people who smoke, they may well want to stop but find it almost impossible being forever driven on by the desire to inhale their drug of choice.
The difficulty of having a food addiction is that we actually do need food to exist and function. Whereas ALL other addictions are pretty much to be considered recreational by the fact that our lives do not depend on the pursuit of them. Yes maybe there are withdrawal symptoms but they are not usually life threatening if managed properly. In a way it is a shame I was not addicted to carrots and broccoli as those would be considered not to be a real addiction as they would do me very little harm when compared to heavy sugary carbs etc. I am still certain the cravings for me started as a by-product of the anti depressants and strong pain medication but as they took hold, maybe I formed an addiction to the food. This is something I have never considered before as I have already stated, I don’t believe myself to have an addictive personality.
It must therefore follow that it is quite easy for someone who was at one point addicted to food to find they can replace that feeling with alcohol and thus endanger their lives once again. If their driving mechanism with food was the same driving mechanism others get with smoking, drinking or drug abuse then once their stomach is made much smaller, they can no longer physically indulge in their addiction of choice and possibly must find another to get the “hit” that scratches the monkey’s back. But this is only my supposition and no one else’s.
Still, positive thoughts everyone, I for one shall certainly be mindful of drinking in future even if I am a little way off of indulging if at all and the thought of being dehydrated from alcohol and not being able to get the fluids into my body quickly is most definitely enough to keep me on the right side of the line for a while yet to come I am sure.
Thank you for reading.