The sudden increase in bariatric surgeries in the United States for the last two years has allowed researchers and surgeons on weight loss to study the changes in behavior on a long-term basis of patients who have undergone the procedures to lose weight. Though some of the patients who have undergone bariatric surgeries avoid overeating, they develop other compulsive behavioral patterns that can harm them both mentally and physically.
- The surgeons are of the opinion that general awareness of the problem is necessary for such patients.
Bariatric teams often conduct seminars on the topic to make the patients aware that one addiction can get quickly replaced by another if they are not careful enough. There is always a chance that the bariatric patients may require some guidance on behavior that is related to addiction after undergoing surgery for weight loss. The patient may pick up new addictions like smoking, drinking alcohol, gambling, compulsive buying sprees and others without noticing anything unusual.
- Psychologists believe that new addictions may take hold if the compulsive behavior is not addressed adequately in time.
Psychologists call this phenomenon where one compulsive behavior gets replaced by an entirely new one as addiction transfer. Every patient who has undergone bariatric surgery comes to realize that having a healthy and balanced diet is of utmost importance. They begin to find ways to limit the amount of nutrition they should take in and pick up better eating habits. Though this may look like a significant breakthrough, sometimes patients undergoing the weight loss process can get fooled by the thought that they are now free from the emotional problems that were at the root of their addictions. They might pick up a new habit without giving it a thought in their satisfied and relaxed condition.
- Bariatric surgery can never fill the emotional void.
Digging deep to find out the feelings of discomfort and emotional blockages that are responsible for compulsive behavior is never easy. Most addicts feel pleasure and relief temporarily brought about by substance abuse such as taking drugs, smoking, drinking alcohol or even overeating. Bariatric surgery can change eating habits and behavior related to food, but it cannot take care of the emotional problems. It is the job of the patients to find out ways which they can use to handle them. Counseling may sometimes be required to help the patients become aware of the destructive nature of urgent behavioral and emotional problems.
- Alcohol abuse is a threat to bariatric patients.
Alcohol abuse is considered to be a high-risk for every person especially when the person is a bariatric patient. Some of the procedures followed in bariatric surgery can change the way the body handles the metabolism of alcohol, and the patients can become inebriated even after having only a small amount of alcohol. More studies are required to find out the exact role of bariatric surgery in addiction transfer.