Weight Loss Surgery Appears to Lead to Increased Substance Use

DECEMBER 13, 2012
Patients who undergo bariatric weight loss surgery appear to have increased post-surgery rates of drug, alcohol, and cigarette use, according to the results of a study published online on October 15, 2012, in Archives of Surgery.

The prospective study included 155 participants—132 women and 32 men—who underwent weight loss surgery at a major urban community hospital and were recruited during preoperative information sessions. Of the participants, 100 received laparoscopic Roux-en-Y bypass surgery, and 55 received laparoscopic adjustable band surgery. The patients filled out questionnaires to assess their eating behaviors and substance use at preoperative baseline and 1, 3, 6, 12, and 24 months after surgery.

Participants reported a significant increase in the frequency of substance use (composite of drug, alcohol, and cigarette use) from baseline to 24 months after surgery, as well as significant increases from 1, 3, and 6 months after surgery to 24 months after surgery. In addition, participants who underwent Roux-en-Y bypass surgery reported a significant increase in the frequency of alcohol use from baseline to 24 months after surgery.

The researchers conclude that patients undergoing bariatric weight loss surgery may be at increased risk of substance abuse and that the risk of alcohol abuse in those undergoing Roux-en-Y bypass surgery should be noted in particular.

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