Study Links Weight Loss Surgery With Increased Risk of Substance Abuse

A new study links weight loss surgery with an increased risk for substance abuse. The study found patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery were at increased risk for alcohol use after the procedure.

Use of both drugs and alcohol increased at the time of surgery, with additional increases in the following two years, HealthDay reports. The study of 132 women and 23 men who underwent one of two commonly performed types of weight loss surgery found the strongest link between gastric bypass and alcohol use. Some patients in the study underwent a procedure called gastric banding. Gastric bypass makes the stomach smaller, and lets food bypass part of the small intestine. Gastric banding involves placing a silicone band around the upper stomach, in order to limit intake of food.

Some experts think people who undergo weight loss surgery may be at increased risk of substance abuse because they are swapping an addiction to food for an addiction to drugs or alcohol, the article notes. Others think after surgery, a person may become intoxicated more quickly with less alcohol. Gastric bypass may also change the reward pathways in the brain, the article notes.

The study is published in the Archives of Surgery.

A study published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association found patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery may increase the risk of alcohol abuse. The study of almost 2,000 weight loss surgery patients found alcohol abuse rose from 7.6 percent before the surgery, to 9.6 percent afterwards. Patients who had gastric bypass surgery were more than twice as likely to abuse alcohol, compared with those who had the gastric band procedure.