Addiction Transfer: Bypass to Alcoholism

“Nothing can prepare you for what can happen; both emotionally and physically.” Says Sandy, a gastric bypass patient from Westwood California.

Sandy and thousands like her are experiencing what psychologists are calling “addiction transfer” which occurs after gastric bypass surgery when patients are physically unable to over eat.

According to psychologist Melodie Moorehead, a leader in the emerging field, at least thirty percent of gastric bypass patients will transfer addictions from overeating to another compulsive behavior.

After surgery people slowly realize the same problems and life challenges are there. The trouble arises when overeating is no longer a viable coping mechanism. Gambling, shopping and sex have begun to surface in these patients but most alarming is the addiction to alcoholism.

In addition, many people who have gastric bypass surgery have trouble sleeping. They may find natural ways to try to get more sleep, but many turn toward sleeping medications which can be addictive. For information on natural ways to fall asleep, check out some essential oils for sleep at

The current hypothesis as to why alcohol is most often the new addiction is because during bypass surgery part of the stomach is portioned off which circumvents a piece of the small intestine resulting in alcohol entering the blood stream with lightening speed.

Mark Gold, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the University of Florida College of Medicine explains it this way; “You shorten the time to the brain so much that if you liked alcohol before, you’ll love it now.”

There are precautionary measures, however, they aren’t always effective. Especially when the weight was initially the effect of underlying causes.

According to Cynthia Johnson, a licensed clinical social worker at Nashville’s Abundant Life Counseling Center, many insurance providers require some type of therapy before such a surgery in order to flesh out any problems. “We use a Geneogram in some instances to attempt to find a history of addictions.”

“I had to take six months of classes before I had my surgery.” Explained Sandy. ” I had to keep a food journal and lose 10 percent of the weight. I had to talk regularly with a nutritionist and a therapist. It was too easy to lie on the food journal and just say I was eating properly. I was the star pupil, go figure. On my last visit to the psychiatrist I pasted a smile on and said all the right things. I zipped right through my appointment so I could have my surgery. Nothing was going to stop me.”

Alcoholism is particularly screened for. Patients are advised not to drink alcohol for six months to year following surgery not only for its addictive qualities but also its high calorie content.

Natural health advocates believe the surgery is unnecessary in any instance and the possible side effects far outweigh the benefits. There are patients who vehemently oppose those theories.

“I had an ovarian condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome which caused me to gain 100 lbs in a year. My doctor performed a psych evaluation, my insurance approved the surgery in under twenty-four hours and I was good to go.” Said Kathy, bypass patient from Kansas. “I’m upset with the Oprah show and the negative publicity. I have a genetic condition. I don’t and didn’t overeat. It is wrong to portray most women as having to replace one addiction after another. That isn’t always the case. It isn’t even the case fifty percent of the time.