Alcohol dependency fear for weight loss surgery patients

Weight loss surgery patients turning to alcoholismPic: Getty

Patients who undergo weight loss surgery could be simply swapping one addiction for another, researchers claim, with some turning instead to alcohol to satisfy their cravings.

Scientists in Norway have suggested that gastric bands and other weight loss operations could be turning people into alcoholics, and are about to begin a study to investigate whether such surgical procedures alter the body's chemistry, making alcohol seem more satisfying and rewarding.

Previous research has already pointed to a greater reliance on alcohol in post-surgery patients, with several reporting that their boozing had increased since the op, and a 2012 study in the US suggesting that the risk of alcoholism was doubled by weight loss procedures.

Experts have suggested that gastric band operations, for instance, whereby the stomach is made smaller, reducing the ability to binge on food, may cause food addicts to look elsewhere for satisfaction.

Magnus Strommen, from St Olav's University in Trondheim, Norway, explained that weight loss surgery could increase the availability of alcohol to the blood, and reach peak alcohol concentration within five to ten minutes of that first tipple, compared to the usual 30 minutes.

"Hence, the effect of alcohol is dramatically altered," he told the Daily Mail, "With the maximum concentration being both much higher and coming much sooner than before.

Mr Strommen, who will lead the upcoming study, revealed that he had met several patients who became alcoholics following surgery, and added: "They are, of course, not that obese any more, but are dealing with a serious new problem which jeopardises their very existence.

"I have also spoken to former patients who are not abusing alcohol, but have damaged their social reputation because they suddenly get blackouts when drinking."

Last month, researchers at Imperial College London claimed that there are now 2 million obese Britons who would qualify for weight loss surgery.

Have you had weight loss surgery, and has it caused problems with alcohol? Leave your comments below...