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Bariatric surgery likely to increase patients’ risk of developing alcohol abuse problem, says study
Posted in Alcohol

The social media is flooded with advertisements of various ways and tools that can help in instant weight loss. While the reasons for weight gain may be different for each person, the struggle for weight loss may be similar in many cases. Many times, people resort to gastric bypass surgery to achieve their weight loss goals. This surgery helps in narrowing down the size of the stomach, thus, limiting the calorie intake. Many people view this method, the bariatric (weight loss) surgery, as an effective weight loss option without knowing that it can give rise to other complications.

A recent study has suggested that 20 percent of patients going through bariatric (weight loss) surgery is at an increased risk of developing a drinking problem. The study, titled “Alcohol and other substance use after bariatric surgery: prospective evidence from a U.S. multicenter cohort study,” stressed how signs of alcohol use disorder (AUD) may appear years after the surgery. According to the findings, published in the journal Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases in March 2017, patients who undergo bariatric surgery must receive prolonged clinical follow-up to check for any potential alcohol use disorder and treat it accordingly.

The research found 20.8 percent of the respondents to develop signs of AUD, including alcohol abuse and addiction, within five years of being operated for their weight loss problems. The researchers observed over 2,000 patients who had taken part in the National Institutes of Health-funded Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery-2 (LABS-2) in 2006. The researchers were examining patients undergoing bariatric surgery at one of the hospitals across America. While 1,481 patients had gone through bariatric surgery, the rest 522 had undergone laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, a less invasive procedure that did not result in as much weight loss as the former.

The researchers observed the patients belonging to both the groups during the course of their study. According to details obtained, the respondents after having undergone bariatric surgery exhibited a rise in the pervasiveness of manifestations of AUD as assessed by the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test. After the bariatric surgery, patients with no history of alcohol problems had two times higher risk of developing alcohol problems compared to those who had undergone gastric banding to lose weight.

Need to follow up on bariatric surgery patients

Elaborating on the observations, lead author of the study Dr. Wendy C. King, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, said, “We knew there was an increase in the number of people experiencing problems with alcohol within the first two years of surgery. Alcohol problems may not appear for several years, thus, it is important that doctors routinely ask patients with a history of bariatric surgery about their alcohol consumption and whether they are experiencing symptoms of alcohol use disorder, and are prepared to refer them to treatment.”

Based on the data available, the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery advocates evaluation of bariatric surgery patients for any potential AUD prior to the surgery. In addition, those queuing up for surgery must be informed about the probability of suffering from the disorder after the surgery. Apart from this, clinicians need to advise their high-risk patients of ridding themselves of alcohol consumption following their bariatric surgery, though undergoing surgery predisposes them to abuse alcohol.

Recovery is just a call away

Though an assessment of data indicated bariatric surgery patients at four times greater likelihood of receiving substance use disorder treatment, very few come forward to report their problems regarding misuse of illicit substances, including alcohol. This indicates that despite government agencies at the federal level encouraging people to avail necessary treatment, not many people are utilizing treatment options being facilitated by the government.

The Sovereign Health of Texas offers evidence-backed alcohol detox facilities for complete recovery from addiction to alcohol or any other kind of addictive substance. We strive to ensure that every patient has the best chance of a successful recovery. For more information, contact our 24/7 helpline number or chat online for expert advice for alcohol addiction treatment.

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