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Bariatric and Alcoholism....



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Hey guys,

This may be a tough subject, but if it can't be discussed on an anonymous forum where we regularly discuss our bowel movements and farts, were else can it be discussed? I've kind of hinted at this in a couple of my previous posts, but four weeks ago, my issues with alcohol had gotten to the point that I finally had no choice but to start attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, as well as various addiction treatment options provided through my health plan. For background on what I'm talking about, see:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/popular-weight-loss-surgery-roux-en-y-gastric-bypass-linked-to-alcohol-problems/

According to some studies, the odds of a post-bariatric patient having alcohol struggles goes up 28%. Wow.

I've done a couple of searches on this board for alcoholism, and come up with basically zilch. Given the increased odds, how can that be? I can't possibly be the only one on here who can directly correlate my increased drinking to the date of my surgery.

I bring this up, mostly because it's what I'm living right now, and I have a lot of information to share and well as unanswered questions. NOTE: I'm 13 days sober since making a few key changes in my Vitamin intake, which has me very excited. Would love to start a discussion and share with anyone out there who is struggling. PM is fine as well.

-ds

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6 minutes ago, disco stu said:

I've done a couple of searches on this board for alcoholism, and come up with basically zilch. Given the increased odds, how can that be?

Same taboo as regain or food struggles. People don't talk about it because they're ashamed and judgment levels are high.

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I'm glad that you've made the effort to get your alcohol controlled and very interested in Vitamins helping with that. When you searched for alcoholism, did you also search for "transfer addiction"? That's what I've seen on these boards a few times. They were discussing how common the problem was to transfer a food addiction to other addictive behaviors. Good luck!

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1 hour ago, Orchids&Dragons said:

I'm glad that you've made the effort to get your alcohol controlled and very interested in Vitamins helping with that. When you searched for alcoholism, did you also search for "transfer addiction"? That's what I've seen on these boards a few times. They were discussing how common the problem was to transfer a food addiction to other addictive behaviors. Good luck!

"transference" in an interesting notion, but based on my current experience, I've become convinced that there's a brain chemical explanation for my alcohol increase post-bariatric......

First off, let's acknowledge that heredity has a lot to do with addiction. Some of us are just born wired to fall prey to over drinking. Study: If neither of your parents were alcoholics, you have a 1 in 10 chance of developing alcohol issues. If one parent was an alcoholic, your odds move to 1 in 2, and if both parent were alcoholics, your odds move to 4 in 5. ack!! Guess who drew that last lucky straw! AA calls it being born 'allergic' to alcohol.

Second, alcoholism is a scientifically provable brain chemical disorder; not some kind of moral failing or weakness of will-power. Here's a snippet from a great video that really helps explain.

Third: There have been studies which link Vitamin deficiency with an increase in alcohol abuse. I'm describing this study from memory, but it goes something like this: Back in the 50s, they did a study where they placed rats in a cage with a bowl of Water and a bowl of alcohol and then fed them Puppy Chow. About 10% of the rats turned into alcoholics, which is in line with the general US population. Next they re-ran the experiment with a new set of rats, except this time, they extracted all the vitamin nutrients out of the food. About %85 of the rats turned into alcoholics. Finally, the re-ran a third time, but with Puppy Chow mega fortified with Vitamins, specifically B and C. None of the rats turned to the alcohol.

When I read this study - true or not - I was inspired. It made a connection in my head. What is one of the major issues facing post-bariatric patients? Vitamin deficiency. And who hasn't been a very good boy about taking his bariatric vitamins for the last two years.... the exact time frame where my drinking went from the occasional bender, to daily drinking? Me!!

So two weeks ago I started getting really serious about my vitamin intake, including getting B-12 injections every two days.

Wow! what a difference! My craving went from a scream to a whisper. This last 12 days of sobriety has been a piece of cake compared to all my other attempts (none of which lasted more than seven days before giving in to the cravings).

Your milage may vary, but if you are struggling with managing your alcohol cravings, give B12 injections a try. Hopefully it makes the same difference as I've experienced the last two weeks (knock on wood)

I'll keep this post updated and honest.

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This is quite interesting. I was a nightly drinker before surgery and expected to have major cravings after. I've always been able to quit drinking when I needed to (like when I was pregnant/nursing) but have been a regular drinker most of my life. I've been pleasantly surprised that I haven't experienced much in the way of cravings since the surgery, but honestly, I'm taking way more Vitamins than I ever have before. You may have something there!

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This is absolutely fascinating. I know that at my center we had to attend a mandatory session on the increased risk of alcoholism developing due to this surgery. I am pretty sure the percentages were listed higher than you quoted, with an even greater chance if alcohol dependency runs in the family.

I definitely get the transference as I have seen that first hand in a number of former addicts who have successfully resolved their dependency on alcohol and drugs, but I have not heard of Vitamin deficiency being a potential contributor. Would be interested in seeing if there is a link!

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2 hours ago, Kay07 said:

know that at my center we had to attend a mandatory session on the increased risk of alcoholism developing due to this surgery.

Funny. At my center all they said was, "You're going to be much more sensitive to alcohol. One drink and you'll be flying! Your friends and relatives will love that you're such a cheap date!"

They sold it as a bonus!

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On 11/06/2018 at 21:51, disco stu said:





Funny. At my center all they said was, "You're going to be much more sensitive to alcohol. One drink and you'll be flying! Your friends and relatives will love that you're such a cheap date!"




They sold it as a bonus!


LOL well that is definitely true. I’m not much of a drinker to start with but now I’m rosey -cheeked and giggling HALF a glass of wine in! Pretty pathetic really ... 😊

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Good post! I’m avoiding alcohol for a while bc I was warned that it is easy to become dependent after sleeve. It is not mentioned much probably bc there are some really hardcore and super judgmental folks on here that call themselves veterans and shame anyone that they see as weak or not conforming to their brand of advice. I encourage you to keep reaching out. This isn’t something I struggle
With right now but I’m very aware of it and am taking precautions because I do not want to become an alcoholic. Thanks for sharing the info. Keep going to your meetings and hang in there! I have seen this discussed maybe on here but maybe elsewhere. Best to you!

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17 hours ago, disco stu said:

You're going to be much more sensitive to alcohol. One drink and you'll be flying!

True. However, maybe this is why alcohol becomes so attractive.

I can't remember talking about addiction transfer either, however, as a reflux conversion patient I didn't have to attend any pre-op program and back in time nobody seemed to be too concerned about addiction transfer.

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Quick update:

Recovery is going so-so. Struggling with the AA style, full abstinence, but my total alcohol intake is way way down from what it was, so I still feel mostly successful.

As to my Vitamin theory, I still think it has a lot of merits, despite a few people\medical professionals calling it into question, especially the use of Vitamin B12 injections vs pills. As an experiment, I stopped the shots and doubled up on B-complex pills for a week. Of course these things are hard to measure scientifically, but I definitely felt an increase in the intensity of cravings. I switched back to the injections, and the craving lessened. Your milage may vary.

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I do think transference of addictions is a legitimate thing. Addiction issues usually aren’t limited to just one thing. You see people quit smoking and develop gambling or food addictions. It happens all the time.

It is super common for post ops to develop alcohol dependencies.

As someone who previously went through some dependency issues, I’m incredibly aware and sensitive to being at an increased risk. I think the worst thing people can do is think it can’t happen to them. If you don’t think you’re susceptible to addiction transference, then you’re less likely to recognize the signs.

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Transference addiction is completely a real thing. I have already noticed a habit of me going from overeating to purposefully undereating. Basically one eating disorder to another. It's something I'm trying to keep tabs on, since I am so soon post-op. A coworker's family member began drinking after surgery and later moved to heroin. Your brain looks for new ways to cope with underlying stressors that caused you to overeat or eat unhealthily to begin with. My surgeon and the rest of the team stressed that the rate of alcoholism is much higher in bariatric patients. They also said that patients are much more likely to engage in high-risk activities, like adrenaline sports (which I did find a little amusing). I was super-screened for any past history of alcohol or drug use. I was not much of a drinker beforehand, maybe a handful of times a year. I'm not sure I will ever try it, personally, because I am worried I may enjoy it a bit too much. I wish you the best of luck! My best friend is currently in inpatient rehab for alcoholism and is doing very well.

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