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Weight-loss surgery increases risk of alcoholism

September 08 | By Rachael

Alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a very acute form of alcohol abuse that has harmful side effects and can result in a broad range of issues that impact personal relationships, professional goals, and overall physical and mental health. The four cornerstones of alcoholism are a strong need to drink alcohol (craving), not being able to stop once drinking starts (loss of control), stopping leads to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms (dependence) and the need to drink more to feel the same effect (tolerance).

Being a legally available beverage commonly used during social occasions, people may turn to alcohol for a specific reason or no reason at all. While some of the most common reasons for people taking up the habit of drinking alcohol are to relieve stress, feel good, cope with loss and overcome anxiety, many people inadvertently stumble into it due to genetics, surgeries, etc.

Such accidental mishaps have the potential to make a person dependent on alcohol, which may eventually turn into an addiction. In the light of the above revelation, it becomes essential to ensure all kinds of clinical follow-ups and precautions to treat any proclivity toward drinking.

Popularity of more invasive weight-loss surgeries increase risks

One of the largest and longest-running studies of patients who underwent a weight-loss surgery has indicated a close relationship between weight-loss surgeries and alcoholism. The findings of the study were published in Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases, a journal of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).

Researchers led by Wendy C. King, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, found that one in five patients who undergoes a popular weight-loss surgery like bariatric surgery is likely to develop AUD.

Since the symptoms of such a disorder may not appear until years after the surgery, one runs the increased risk of falling in the vicious cycle of drinking. King and her team started working on this study in 2006 by following more than 2,000 patients out of surgery for seven years and observed that 20.8 percent of the patients developed the symptoms of AUD within five years of the surgery known as a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) compared to 11.3 percent who underwent gastric banding surgery.

While RYGB is a more invasive weight-loss surgery that significantly reduces the size of the stomach and changes connection with the small intestine, other popular forms of surgery known as laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding are less invasive. Despite being comparatively less meddlesome, it is interesting to note procedures like laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding are not popular among people due to less weight loss results. Therefore, this has spiked concerns among medical practitioners and experts. The participants in the study included 1,481 patients who received RYGB and 522 who underwent laparoscopic gastric banding.

The above results advocate that patients recovering from such type of surgeries, essentially bariatric surgery, should receive a long-term clinical follow-up to monitor and treat AUD. Since the identifications of the symptoms related to drinking problems may take several years, doctors need to routinely interview such patients after their surgery about their alcohol consumption pattern. Moreover, they should be prepared to refer them to further treatment for alcoholism, if required.

Choose treatment over ignorance

There are short-term and long-term effects of drinking depending on the frequency and amount of alcohol consumed. The short-term effects may cause slow responses, poor reflexes, low inhibitions, reduced brain activity, blurry vision, suppressed breathing, restlessness, etc.

These side effects make it extremely dangerous for a person to drive or carry out tasks that require alertness and quick reflexes. Alcohol can distort the perception of speed, time and distance and can, therefore, put lives at risk.

The extended bouts of drinking over a prolonged period can affect one’s long-term health. It can lead to brain defects, including Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS), liver diseases, vision damage, cancer, heart problems, bone loss, etc.

The decision to seek help for an existing problem of alcohol addiction is one of the biggest choices one can make. If you or your loved one is fighting alcohol addiction, contact the Colorado Alcohol Addiction Help for guidance on the best facilities offering alcohol treatment in Colorado. Call our 24/7 helpline 866-592-9261 or chat online with our counselors to know about some of the finest alcohol addiction treatment centers in Colorado.