Alcohol after Bariatric Surgery

Alcohol after Bariatric SurgeryAfter having weight loss surgery, it’s very important to be aware of the role that alcohol plays in your life, for a variety of reasons.

People who have gastric banding surgery are allowed to have alcoholic beverages in moderation. However, remember that part of your new dietary plan involves avoiding carbonated beverages and avoiding drinking an excessive amount of calories. Beer and champagne contain carbonation, so they should be avoided in the same way that soda and carbonated water are. On the other hand, many mixed cocktails are not carbonated, but they are often made with high-calorie, sugary mixers. Consuming alcoholic beverages means that you’re taking in calories that aren’t restricted by your band. While it’s possible to lose weight and have alcohol in moderation, an excessive amount of alcoholic drinks can sabotage your weight loss efforts simply because of the added calories.

In addition to this possibility of stalled weight loss, bariatric surgery patients run a very real risk of suffering from a phenomenon known as addiction transference.

Simply stated, addiction transference occurs when you replace one addiction with another. For many people, their obesity was caused by a type of addiction to food or overeating. Emotional eaters may become obese because they use food to cope with an array of negative emotions. After having weight loss surgery, it is much more difficult for people to continue with a food addiction or emotional eating behaviors. In some cases, addiction transference occurs after weight loss surgery because patients find new addictive behaviors to replace old ones. It’s estimated that anywhere from 5 to 20 percent of bariatric surgery patients will suffer from some type of addiction transference after surgery.

Alcohol abuse, along with gambling and compulsive shopping, is one of the most common forms of addiction to develop in people after weight loss surgery. It’s important to be aware of your risk for addiction transference when considering whether or not you will drink alcohol—or how much you will drink—after surgery.

Addiction transference is not a direct side effect of weight loss surgery. Neither the placement of a gastric band nor the weight loss you experience will stimulate a desire to drink. Addiction transference, rather, is merely a sign of an underlying problem that was previously being addressed with food. To avoid addiction transference, it’s recommended that you seek professional help from a support group or mental health professional to resolve any underlying problems that may have caused the addictive behavior in the first place. In some cases, certain types of medications can be used to help treat addiction before or after surgery.