Gastric Bypass Surgery and Alcoholism

Swedish researchers have made a preliminary connection between patients who have had gastric bypass surgery and an increased risk of alcohol abuse. Gastric bypass patients, according to this study, are twice as likely as gastric banding surgery (Lap-Band® or Realize® Band) patients to develop alcoholism. The results have been covered in Healthland.

The research highlights the difference between the two procedures and may offer some insight into addiction transfer i.e. those who substitute one addiction for another – in this case from a food addiction to addiction to drugs or alcohol. The result of food addiction is often obesity while excessive substance use may turn to alcoholism – both are often caused by emotional pain.

After gastric bypass surgery, alcohol passes through the stomach and enters the small intestine more quickly. Since the intestinal tract is more efficient at absorbing alcohol, blood alcohol levels can be higher with less alcohol. Gastric banding surgery does not change the anatomy of the stomach and therefore alcohol is processed much the same way as before surgery.

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