Weight loss surgery patients that have undergone the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass procedure may be at higher risk of developing alcohol abuse problems according to a recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Increased incidences of alcohol use disorder (AUD) were evident in data taken at the two-year post-operative assessment, indicating that AUD risks are more likely to develop between year one and year two after bariatric surgery. Specifically, 7.6% of participants had AUD prior to surgery, 7.3% had AUD one year after and 9.6% of patients had AUD two years after. The study was led by Wendy C. King, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh, and included 1,945 individuals who had their first bariatric surgery at one of 10 medical centers throughout the United States.
Previous studies have indicated that some bariatric surgeries change alcohol pharmacokinetics, and reduce the body’s ability to process alcohol. Such patients may find that they get intoxicated more quickly and stay drunk longer than prior to their surgeries. The study led by Dr. King points to a specific vulnerability of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass patients to developing alcohol abuse problems that was not observed in patients who underwent a laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding procedure (i.e. Lap Band or similar). Specifically, in patients that had the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery the incidence of alcohol abuse was 7.0% prior to surgery, 7.9% one year after and 10.7% two years after surgery.
The study further indicates that patients who have had the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass procedure are more than twice as likely to develop alcohol abuse problems as those who have undergone a laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding surgery. The study’s authors believe that a combination of the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass patient’s reduced ability to process alcohol along with a year-two resumption of the higher amounts of alcohol consumed prior to surgery is likely what is driving the higher levels of AUD.
The study also found additional predictors of alcohol abuse problems in post-bariatric surgery patients. The data indicates that smoking, recreational drug use, younger ages, male gender, previous AUD, regular alcohol consumption and lower scores on the interpersonal test (ISEL-12) are predictors; however, most of the aforementioned have been associated with AUD in the overall population of the United States.
This study highlights the need to educate bariatric surgery patients, and those that have had a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass in particular, about the possible increased risk of developing AUD, and that post-surgery alcohol screenings should also be made available to such individuals.
The study was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases along with various other universities and medical centers.
Source: The Journal of the American Medical Association