NEW RESEARCH EMERGING…The Special Problem of Addiction Transfer after Surgery

New Research has expressed concerns that Addiction Transfer or cross addiction is a personal risk for some patients after bariatric surgery. The definition of “Addiction Transfer” specifically refers to trading compulsive eating for a new and different compulsive behavior, often another process addiction, such as sex or love.

There is also strong evidence of a biological reason for cross-addiction. New research reveals various forms of transfer addiction in almost 30% of patients who have had bariatric surgery. Another research project puts the rate even higher.

These patients, post-surgery, can no longer turn to food as a source of comfort. An intra-psychic pressure builds and a replacement addiction presents itself.

One of the challenges of process addictions such as food and sex is that they can serve many emotional purposes; reward, and many levels of distraction.

9 Known Risk Factors for Process Addiction and Bypass Surgery

There’s a Faustian Bargain in bariatric surgery for some people. Many individuals who suffer from binge eating disorder will explore having bariatric surgery as a way of managing their weight once and for all.

Process addiction transfer from food to sex addiction is a newly documented risk. We’ve also seen in post-surgery, newly-formed addictions to drugs and alcohol.  and other forms of drug abuse. A small population of patients during post-surgery experience a return of their food addiction as well.

Watch Out for These 9 IMPORTANT Risk Factors:

If you’re contemplating having bypass surgery think twice if any of these situations describe you:

  • First and foremost, is there a history of compulsive eating or eating disorders in your family? How central is food in your life?
  • is there a distinct family history of alcohol or drug abuse?
  • Regular consumption of alcohol before bariatric surgery. Existing alcohol problems can be made worse with bariatric surgery.
  • Do you have a co-occurring issue with chronic pain? Are you on pain meds?  Are you currently taking drugs for pain management? How responsible have you been in taking that medication?
  • Do you have a history of childhood sexual abuse, or other developmental trauma or multi-event PTSD?
  • Is there a History of depression, anxiety disorders, or other mood disorders in your family?
  • Do you lack support or feel lonely?
  • Are you emotionally avoidant? Are strong feelings something you’d rather avoid?
  • Do you tend to blow yourself up in self-sabotaging behaviors?

Yup…This Sounds Like Me…Now What?

If you’re contemplating bariatric surgery and have a more than average risk of experiencing a transfer addiction, it is important for you to put the pre-operative process on hold and address your addiction issues first.

Here’s something you might not know. One researcher has shown that over half of all bariatric surgery patients seeking weight loss have a binge eating disorder. But it’s important to note that studies vary widely on how big a problem this is.

Some studies play down the risk of transfer addiction. As usual, your best approach to understanding research is to follow the money.

If you’re struggling with an active addiction right now…bariatric surgery is probably not a good idea.

Deal with your addictions issue first, and get a year of sobriety under your belt. Let’s be clear why I’m saying this. The first year of addiction recovery has a very high relapse rate. If you possess the resilience and mental toughness to stay sober for a full year, revisit the notion of life-changing bariatric surgery.

Weight Loss Doesn’t Solve the Problem

Unfortunately, sudden weight loss will not curb addictive behaviors. Because binge eating isn’t an easy behavior to revisit, other compulsive behaviors will present themselves for consideration.

Addiction Transfer is a predictable risk for some patients.

These transfer addictions include:

  • Sex and Love compulsivity
  • Alcohol and drug problems
  • Shopping
  • Gambling

Transfer addictions emerge to comfort the addict and provide the needed distraction previously satisfied by food.