My Bariatric Life: Simple Solutions for Obesity Surgery Patients Facing Alcohol Abuse or Dependence
Now that the gastric bypass surgery has been done and the pounds are slipping away, there is cause to celebrate the new you. Why not? Aside from the obvious health factors, other reasons for opting for the surgery could very well have been improving personal appearance and lifting self-esteem. Mirrors and scales have become more user-friendly, and you are feeling pretty good about yourself.
Fair enough. Your efforts have produced dividends, and your work has earned you rewards. By all means, celebrate yourself...carefully.
In a previous sharepost, the pitfalls of alcohol use by weight-loss surgery patients were explored. Simply put, alcohol use for people who have had gastric bypass surgery can be quite problematic. Studies have shown that people who have had bypass surgery had a history of drinking problems prior to the surgery. In addition, a significant percentage of patients reported new-onset alcohol abuse following the surgery.
And how does one know a problem exists? Here are some examples:
. Alcohol use prevents fulfillment of work, school, or home obligations
. Using alcohol in situations where that use proves to be dangerous such as operating a motor vehicle
. Legal problems that stem from use of alcohol
. Continued use of alcohol despite recurring problems caused by that use
One or more of the above situations in a twelve month period could be an indicator of alcohol abuse. Whereas, three or more of the following criteria below in a twelve month period could bean indicator of alcohol dependence.
. Increased tolerance
. Physical withdrawal
. Alcohol is used in greater amounts or for longer periods than was intended
. Inability to cut back or control drinking habits
. Large amounts of time are spent using, obtaining, or recovering from alcohol
. Important social, occupational, and recreational activities lose their importance and are neglected or abandoned
. Continued use of alcohol despite the recognition that such use is causing physical or psychological problems
If you are reading this and saying uh-oh, you may wish to make an appointment with an addictions professional to decide if a problem exists. A therapist who is certified in alcohol and drug counseling would be a good place to begin. If a conclusion is reached that a problem is present or at least brewing, there are logical and useful options.
If the problem has reached such a level where detoxification is necessary, a short period of inpatient care may be required. Please know that alcoholism is a serious illness and that unmonitored detoxification can be dangerous. Also, detoxification under medical supervision is much more comfortable than going it alone. As a matter of fact, social support is critical for a sturdy and functional recovery.
Alcoholics Anonymous will probably be recommended sooner than later. It is a worthy and often times successful program that is worth investigating.
Individual counseling by a trained professional is also an option. Find a counselor who you are comfortable with and allow him or her to help steer you through waters that may sometimes be challenging.
Intensive outpatient care is yet another option, a group environment under the supervision and guidance of a professional that extends for a period of weeks or a few months. This modality is usually covered by any standard health provider.
Should the problem be diagnosed as particularly severe, there are higher levels of care including extended inpatient care or half-way house placement. Determining a level of care is a matter that should be agreed upon between you and a counselor.
Another legitimate point to begin is your primary physician.
There is an abundance of good help available, but it is important to know that no amount of help can serve the purpose unless you yourself commit to the process. Good health is had by those who have an earnest desire for it. I am sure you are capable, but you must be willing. Those in recovery from alcohol depence often refer to some treacherous "bottom" they experienced before opting for sobriety. There is no need for such miseries if your efforts are optimal during the first attempt.
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You can read about my decision to have weight loss surgery back in 2003 and my journey to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management since that time. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management with shareposts along the way to help you navigate that journey successfully.