Addiction Substitution after Bariatric Surgery

March 26, 2012

Addiction substitution is an uncommon, but possible psychological byproduct of bariatric surgery. Despite the low likelihood of developing an addiction after surgery, it is a topic that must be explored in order to make sure that every patient understands the ins and outs of the surgery they’ve chosen. Food can be addictive for many of us – we eat when we are not hungry, we eat when we’re tired, bored, happy or sad. We eat alone or we sneak food even when we know we shouldn’t.

This addictive behavior starts to take over our lives, not only causing us to gain weight, but possibly causing obesity. Our diets are significantly curtailed as a result of weight loss surgery. Some people, especially those with a tendency toward addictive behavior, may feel a void in their lives as a result. This void then has to be filled – this may be alcohol, drugs or another addictive substance.

The way we approach this addiction substitution is to try to prevent it in the first place. We require each of our patients to participate in a thorough psychological evaluation before undergoing surgery. Further, we encourage our patients to spend time with our licensed psychologist after surgery in order to ensure that their progress is smooth and free from the possibility of addiction substitution.

From the patient’s perspective, the best way to identify the potential for addiction and prevent addiction substitution is by speaking up. There’s no shame in telling friends, family members, coworkers and especially your surgeon that you may be feeling the need to consume other substances to fill a void. While addiction transfer is not common, it is something every patient should look out for.

You can always contact our office to learn more about this destructive behavior and figure out if it may be affecting you or one of your loved ones.

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Advanced Surgical Associates is one of the first exclusively surgical groups practicing in Union County New Jersey. And that is just the first of many firsts for ASA. For over 40 years, we have pioneered breakthrough surgical patient care in North Jersey in both general and weight loss surgery. ASA also offers gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and gastric banding to those suffering from obesity in New Jersey.
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