September is National Recovery Month

Weight Loss Surgery and Alcohol Addiction

This week, Medical News today shared that new research studied by The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) finds that one of the most common forms of weight loss surgery may raise alcohol dependence with all patients. In 2015, 200,000 Americans received weight loss surgery.

Researchers led by Wendy C. King, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology at the University Of Pittsburgh Graduate School Of Public Health in Pennsylvania, set out to examine the long-term evolution of patients who have undergone bariatric surgery. The team focused on Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) – a type of weight loss surgery that changes the structure of the small intestine and makes the stomach smaller, reducing it to the size of an egg. Within this 2,300 patient study, they found that, one in five patients developed alcohol problems within five years of sobriety.

Additionally, of those participants without alcohol use issues in the year before the intervention, RYGB patients were over twice as likely to develop alcohol use problems over a 7-year period, compared with those who had laparoscopic gastric banding.

Many might think – why would a weight loss surgery trigger ones brain to consume excessive amounts of alcohol? The study being observational, it cannot explain the reason why RYGB may increase the risk so much more than other surgical procedures. However, data shows that when alcohol enters the stomach of someone with normal gut anatomy, some of it is metabolized in the stomach by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase. Although a small amount of alcohol is absorbed in the stomach, most is absorbed into the circulation via the small intestines. Yet, with gastric bypass, more than 95 percent of the stomach is bypassed, including the pylorus. Under these conditions, first pass alcohol metabolism is negligible because alcohol passes directly from the stomach pouch, via gravity, into the intestines where, due to the large surface area of the intestines, it is rapidly absorbed. To make matters worse, when drinking alcohol, many patients obey the postoperative dietary rule of no eating while drinking, causing alcohol to be absorbed at an even faster rate.

Thus, bypass surgery may raise alcohol levels in the bloodstream quicker and higher compared with other procedures. In addition, this surgery increases tolerance by altering the genetic expression of the hormones that deal with reward circuits in the brain which is why patients may drink excessively.

To read more about the dangers of weight loss surgery, visit Medical News Today

New Directions for Women (NDFW) is a drug and alcohol rehab and detox treatment provider offering services for women, pregnant women, women with children up to 13 years of age. For nearly 4 decades, we have expanded to become an internationally recognized, comfortable, luxury, attractive 30-bed residential rehab located in Southern California (CA) Costa Mesa, near Newport Beach’s Back Bay and Nature Preserve. State licensed and certified, our award winning facility touts a very high recovery rate. Please contact New Directions for Women if you or someone you know is in need of care in overcoming this disease at 1-800-93-WOMEN or visit us at: We believe to love her is to help her.

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