A recent report has been released that shows a link between obesity surgery and substance abuse. There are a number of possible reasons for this link, and most medical experts believe that individuals who require obesity surgery often have an addiction to food. After this type of weight loss surgery the patient may turn to drugs, alcohol, or other substances as a substitute for the food that the patient no longer consumes. One medical study on this topic involved 155 subjects who had undergone bariatric weight loss surgery. The study showed that there was an increase of 50% for substance abuse within a two year period after the surgery was performed. The study was recently published in the Archives Of Surgery publication.
According to Alexis Conason, who was the lead study author and who is associated with the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center “Many people who undergo bariatric surgery struggle with eating in response to different emotional cues. I wondered what happened afterward. If they are no longer able to cope with their emotions through eating … do they turn to something like drugs or alcohol to serve the purpose that food did originally.” Other experts have other ideas and relate the link to social behaviors instead. According to Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding, who is the surgery department chief of bariatric surgery division with New York University Langone Medical Center, “What this study may be showing is that morbidly obese people are socially isolated. After surgery, they not only become physically healthy but mentally healthy and now become more social. They go out on dates and go to parties which may involve a social alcoholic drink. Perhaps after surgery, the frequency of alcohol use in bariatric patients normalizes to approach the frequency of alcohol consumption in the lean population.”