What is the relationship between gastric bypass and alcohol use disorder? This question is increasingly being asked — no surprise, considering the number of people undergoing bariatric or weight loss surgery.
The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery report that the number of weight-loss surgeries in the U.S. increased from 158,000 in 2011 to almost 200,000 in 2015. Given the ongoing obesity trend, this number will likely continue to rise.
So, what happens after weight loss surgery? There is quite a significant change to your system after this procedure. As a result, there are differences in the way your body absorbs what you ingest. This absorption is also the case for alcohol.
Research shows that gastric bypass surgery increases the risk of alcohol use disorder. Why is this so? There are quite a few reasons, and we will talk about them.
After bariatric surgery, you may want to know if it is possible to drink alcohol safely. There is no definitive answer to this, but the short answer is “yes.” However, this will have to be done gradually and with some modifications too.
To shed more light on the relationship between gastric bypass and alcohol, let us give case examples. These real-life scenarios are from the Bariatric Times.
Is it possible both patients may not have been telling the truth? Possibly. But what if they were? Did bariatric surgery affect the way their bodies absorb alcohol?
Many studies have been done to ascertain the relationship between gastric bypass and alcohol addiction. A survey done shows the following:
Let us talk a little bit about the normal process in someone who has not had weight loss surgery. A few interesting facts to know are:
So, as we can see, the stomach has a huge role to play when you drink alcohol. Following gastric bypass, however, a large portion of the stomach is bypassed. A few facts to keep in mind are:
To further highlight the relationship of gastric bypass and alcohol, a study reports the following:
In summary, research shows interesting changes with gastric bypass and alcohol. The blood alcohol levels peak higher and faster after bariatric surgery. Also, blood alcohol content takes longer to return to normal. Furthermore, many weight loss surgery patients ingest less food when drinking. As a result, there is an increase in alcohol absorption into the blood.
For some gastric bypass patients, a single drink may be enough to increase blood alcohol levels to the point of legal intoxication!
Drinking alcohol is generally not recommended immediately after gastric bypass surgery. Alcohol absorption into the blood is much faster and higher. As a result, intoxication is more likely. Also, alcohol contains many calories but with little nutritional value. Hence, alcohol intake can work against your goal of losing weight.
Having said this, we do know, however, that some people still drink after weight loss surgery. It is important to remember that this comes with certain risks.
As much as possible, avoid alcohol within the first six to twelve months after your bariatric surgery. It is to your benefit to avoid drinking alcohol during the rapid weight loss period.
Eventually, when cleared by your surgeon to safely consume some alcohol, it is crucial to be with someone you trust, if you plan on drinking in public. The reason for this is because you can get dangerously drunk very quickly due to the changes from surgery. Also, it is strongly advisable to avoid shots if you must have a drink. Furthermore, only drink after a meal or during meals. Food helps slow down the absorption of alcohol. Another essential thing to remember is taking your vitamin and mineral supplements.
For those who drink, a recommendation is to limit alcohol to one standard drink every two hours. In addition, consider a maximum of two drinks to avoid problems due to the rapid absorption of alcohol. As a reminder, one standard drink is one 12-oz beer, 5-oz wine, or 2-oz liquor.
To stay safe, you must never drive or operate heavy machinery after drinking alcohol. Consumption of even small amounts of alcohol can quickly lead to intoxication.
People who have a history of addiction may be at a higher risk of developing a new addiction. Weight loss surgery leads to a decrease in food intake. Because of this, you may find yourself trading your food addiction for other addictive behaviors. Such new addictions may include alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, or gambling addiction.
A study shows that approximately 14% of gastric bypass patients increase their alcohol intake after surgery. Consequently, they may continue to struggle with weight loss, considering the number of empty calories in alcohol. To put things into perspective, let us look at the average amount of calories in alcohol:
Following gastric bypass, alcohol addiction remains a possibility even after many years. A study shows that the number of weight loss surgery patients who develop alcohol problems continues to grow throughout seven years of follow-up.
Because alcohol issues may not appear for many years, doctors need to consider this. Healthcare professionals should routinely take an alcohol history from patients with a history of gastric bypass. They should also refer them to treatment if there are suspicions of drinking problems.
The recommendation is to have alcohol dependence screening before and after gastric bypass. Alcohol use disorder affects not just the person who drinks, but also those around them. This secondary effect on other people is known as secondhand drinking.
The treatment for alcohol addiction is the same as for people who have not had gastric bypass. There are many helpful inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. Medication-Assisted Treatment is a great option. Non-medication treatment involving support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous have been around for a very long time. The importance of counseling cannot be over-emphasized. Support from friends and family also goes a very long way.
There is a relationship between gastric bypass and alcohol addiction. The recent increase in bariatric surgeries makes it more critical to address this.
Gastric bypass surgery involves bypassing most of the stomach. What this means is that alcohol goes more quickly into the intestines – where most of the absorption takes place. As a result of this, the blood alcohol level rises faster than in someone who has not had bariatric surgery.
For some gastric bypass patients, a single drink may be enough to increase blood alcohol levels to the point of legal intoxication! There are no official guidelines for drinking after weight loss surgery. Some surgeons recommend abstaining from alcohol during the rapid weight loss period. On the other hand, some others suggest not drinking for about six to twelve months after surgery.
For those who drink, it is advisable to drink during or after meals. The reason for this is because food slows down the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. nIn addition, the recommendation is to drink slowly. This advice is due to the rapid absorption of alcohol following weight loss surgery. Drinking alcohol slowly gives the body enough time to break it down in the liver.
To stay safe, do not drive or operate heavy machinery. Even small quantities of alcohol can rapidly lead to intoxication.
Treatment for alcohol use disorder in people with gastric bypass surgery is the same as for those who have not had the surgery. Inpatient and outpatient treatments are readily available. Medication-Assisted Treatment, counseling, and support groups are essential components of treatment.
What have your experiences been? Please leave your comments below. Also, share this article with others who may benefit from this write-up.
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