Addiction Is an Unexpected Side Effect of Weight Loss Surgery

pills and a tape measure used to check weight loss

A recent study reveals an unexpected side effect of weight loss surgery–drug addiction. Those recovering from the gastric bypass surgery used for weight loss are at a higher risk of becoming dependent on drugs.

Questionnaires were issued to 132 women and 23 men, all recovering from weight-loss surgery. The results were astounding: illicit drug use, alcohol abuse, or prescription drug abuse increased at the time of surgery, then again at one, three, six, and twenty-four months afterward.

The Reason For The Increase

There are a number of reasons for the increase. First of all, due to the changes in the digestive system, it is more difficult for the body to break down and use the drugs. Therefore, a patient may find himself extremely high from just a small amount of prescription pain medication.

Additionally, experts believe that patients manifest what is called “addiction swapping”. If food was an addiction before the surgery, they can no longer rely on it because they are simply unable to eat as much. Therefore, they may turn to other substances to quench their thirst–namely, drugs and alcohol.

Signs of Addiction

Watch for signs of addiction in yourself or in your loved ones recovering from weight loss surgery. These include:

woman feeling sick due to drugs

Feeling ill if you stop taking the drug. This means you are going through withdrawal. Symptoms are very much like that of illness–fever, chills, shaking, nausea, vomiting, and respiratory distress. The sure sign of it being withdrawal is if the symptoms disappear when you start taking the drug again.

Cravings. You may find yourself longing for the drug at various times throughout the day, or you may even start taking it earlier or at additional times. It may even take over your thoughts so much that you find yourself unable to function, or forgetting important things.

Needing more of the drug. If you find that the dosage prescribed by the doctor doesn’t seem to produce the same effects, do not increase the dosage. If you find yourself doing so, get help from a good rehabilitation program like Narconon.

Neglecting your responsibilities because your life revolves around drugs. You may notice that you spend less time on personal hygiene, ignore phone calls from loved ones, keep showing up late to work or miss important events because your attention is on drugs.

Neglecting hobbies and other activities that you used to do for pleasure. They often lose their luster once drug addiction takes hold.

You may continue to use the drug despite the dangers involved. For example, you may find yourself driving under the influence, getting into accidents on the job, or notice behavior changes such as mood swings, yet you continue to use it.

You’ve lost control. Any addict will tell you–addiction takes control of you and your life so that you feel like you have no way of overcoming it on your own. Often it takes the steady hand of a good friend or loved one to guide you to an effective rehabilitation program.

What To Do

If you have a loved one who is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction problem that has had weight loss surgery there are things you can do to help. Contact your loved ones to help to form an intervention to get the person into treatment. Help to find them the right drug rehab program. Get them to agree to get help and enroll and be a positive support system while they are in treatment.

For more information on the Narconon program contact us today.



Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.