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March 17, 2006

Alcohol and Gastric Bypass

Alcohol A recent study reported in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that the gastric bypass procedure significantly affects alcohol absorption and its inebriating influence. According to the study protocol, a group of gastric bypass patients, three years post-surgery, and their non-surgical controls consumed an alcoholic drink containing 20% v/v alcohol (95% ethanol), and blood alcohol levels were examined over a period of time. The data showed that blood alcohol levels of the gastric bypass patients were far higher and required much less time to peak than those of the non-surgical controls.

The more rapid absorption of alcohol and heightened blood alcohol levels would cause the bariatric patient to have a more pronounced feeling of inebriation during and shortly after drinking.

Alcohol2_1 Why would alcohol absorption be higher for someone who has had gastric bypass? With the gastric bypass procedure, 95% of the stomach and the upper gut (duodenum and a portion of the jejunum) are bypassed. Alcohol passes directly from the stomach pouch, usually without restriction, into the second portion of the gut, known as the jejunum. This portion of the gut has a large surface area and readily and rapidly absorbs the alcohol.

In addition to anatomical changes in the tract that influence alcohol absorption, the gastric bypass patient may also be more sensitive to the intoxicating effects of alcohol because of the reduced calorie intake that occurs after surgery. A number of studies have found that alcohol absorption is far higher if fasting or when consumed on an empty stomach than if provided with a meal or drank soon thereafter.

Drinking alcohol in the early postoperative period may have other adverse effects on health. Frequent vomiting, low calorie intake, not taking multivitamins and malabsorption may cause a number of vitamin and mineral deficits, including thiamin.

Addiction transfer is yet another precaution to be considered with regard to alcohol. The prevalence of food addiction and associated eating abnormalities, i.e. binge eating, carbohydrate cravings, are high among individuals with morbid obesity. With bariatric surgery, the addictive tendencies for food and aberrant eating behavior are considerably improved. However, individuals with addictions often transfer their addiction to yet another substance, such as alcohol. According to the findings of one study, addiction transfer may occur in up to 25% of bariatric patients.

Drinking alcohol after surgery may also reduce maximal weight loss success. Alcohol has no nutrient benefits and contains high numbers of calories that may cause weight gain or prevent weight loss. One 12-ounce can of beer, for instance, contains 150 calories; 3.5 ounces of wine contains 70 calories; 1.5 ounces of gin, rum, vodka or whiskey contains between 97 and 124 calories; and 1.5 ounces of liquor contains 160 calories.

The bariatric patient should absolutely NOT drink alcohol during the rapid weight loss period and definitely not if consuming no or low carbohydrates, not taking vitamin and mineral supplements, vomiting frequently, or not able to keep their food down. However, with time, there is no reason an individual should not be able to enjoy an occasional drink, provided they are aware that it only takes a small amount of alcohol to produce an inebriating effect. With such knowledge, appropriate precautions should be taken, such as waiting a sufficient length of time after drinking to drive or perform other skilled tasks.


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please read my post, dated august 30, 2009. i just lost my brother of 42 to alcoholism and he was a gastric by pass patient.


All I can say for those of you who have had GBS... Do your research... The alcohol that you drink is going straight to your liver and is not being cleared as actively as it would have prior to your surgery. I am a nurse and have worked with GBS patients for over 2 years. Every one that I have talked to thinks it's wonderful how they can drink and then sober up just as quickly... They say that until the day they return due to liver failure!!!

This is not something to be happy about. You guys had the GBS to better your health and your lives. Please, do your research before taking another drink.


I had GBS in 2004. I lost 130# and did GREAT for 2 years until I seperated from my husband. It was a very stressful time for me and I began to drink on a regular basis. (3-4 times per week). I got a DWAI last year and now a DWI 9/5/09. I am in a lot of trouble. I have been an RN for 25 years and am the director for a home care agency for 2 counties. I could lose my job. My BAC after 4 glasses of wine in 2008 was 0.18! I do not know what it was this time yet until I go back to court. I am in serious trouble! I am very active in my church and the community. I have 3 children and 2 grandchildren. It has affected them greatly as well.


I had GBS five years ago and I constantly crave beer, I NEVER get a hangover. Is that weird or what


Dear All: I too am a GP patient. I had my surgery 9 years ago, and now am at a weight that I feel somewhat comfortable with; 5’10, 153 lbs. Prior to my surgery I had passed my partying stage and was a married woman with two beautiful girls. Now, I’m divorced (6 years) and had gotten pregnant (another side effect, I couldn’t absorb the pill, AND the morning after pill). The biological father sued me for getting pregnant, and it cost me 10k to get him to go away. I found myself getting into inappropriate situations, and was having problems in every aspect of my life. I used to be able to drink a bottle of hard liquor and get up the next day woozy but able to somewhat function. The depression I felt was like a weight on my shoulders, pulling me down with every sip, making me want to die. Trying hard to find something to cling to in life, with no real friends to turn to (I would drink alone in my room, where nobody would know) I started to “socialize”, going to a work related party; I had three drinks, and passed out. I remember nothing of the night, and was so embarrassed I finally thought something has to change. One thing that I should mention, I also would go for as many as seven days without eating, and didn’t lose a pound. I truly do know what you are going through, I’ve gone bankrupt, got a DUI, have had men have sex with me while I’m passed out, lost someone I truly cared about, and fell into a black hole of depression. I stopped buying alcohol and I don’t even crave it, what I crave is for the loneliness to ebb, I want the escape into oblivion. I no longer have the weight to hide behind; I have to look at myself and my actions and am struggling every day to keep my head above water. I never knew this problem was so prevalent with GP patients. I finally was able to talk to someone, and she helped me to see that I needed to find one thing to do for myself each day. Anything would do, from making sure I eat something, to getting out of bed and taking a hot bath. I know that the approach is simplistic, and basic. Don’t get me wrong, I struggle every day. I’ve pushed every person away in my life, and still have to force a desire to take care of myself. It is a process everyday, and I’m sure that some days I will fail, but I am trying to find the tools to move on, so that I can live. Don’t give up, we all need someone who has been there, and I sure have. Please know you are not alone, reach for one more day, and try it sober, you will like how you feel tomorrow morning, no headache, no room spinning, and the ability to grasp what people are talking about. Then find one thing nice to do for yourself today, even if that one thing is not taking a drink. Get out of bed, go look in the mirror, and if you need a hug, picture me out there holding your hand struggling with you. You are not alone, someone does understand.

G Spin

This is horrible. I had two glasses of wine and stopped for a DUI with.11 reading. I slept for 1 hour and drove to the store. I had gastric bypass 10 years ago. I did not feel like I was drunk. What is really going on.

angie 47

after three years after gb i drank wine alott ive since got three dui .still have strong urges to be bussed.crave alott andcan drank alott


first off I'm the boyfriend posting this for my G/F I met her 4 years after surgery but 5 months after the lose of her husband and just learning and going to teach her what i learned when i can do it without it getting her into more trouble she is in jail now going to go to treatment next she took her old addiction to food and put it to alcohol to the and i want to warn some that one the fast getting drunk and then sobering up well she was sober to her and me past a sobriety test even but blow a .130 9 hours after having 2 drinks and took her 9 hours to blow clean so 18 hours to be ably to get out of the drunk tank

one time of drinking a bottle herself she got a DWI and is still dealing with that but went throw hell in jail because they couldn't get a read after 6 try's were working with the lawyer one reason just to get a better deal but she was so drunk that I'm trying to figurer out if the Breathalyzer couldn't read that hight blackouts are common with her and to the point that it ruined are relationship but i seen that it was the drinking that was the main problem and told her when i kicked her out that i would let her back if she stopped drinking but now after this last bit of having 2 drinks the night before court and was still way over and her still pending DWI and refusal charge because the Breathalyzer wouldn't or couldn't read that high she might be looking up to a year in jail

i drink a couple drinking almost nightly because i have allot of back pain and don take pills so i know allot about it in my body but with this Gastric Bypass and what i learned with 3 years of my G/F don't even start drinking and if you do beer is the best wine and hard drinks you might get popped for driving drunk 20 hours after your last drink

i hope are story helps people decided what their choice will be

jay and Jolene life right now isn't any fun
contact me at [email protected] if you would like to know more or think there story could help

Oh My Sisters

never had any problem with alcohol. Had bypass in 2002, now am a raging alcoholic and never saw this coming. Have lost relationships after trying to hide and I feel my high visibility career is next. Need help.


I am a little over 6 years post surgery. I have struggled with drinking to the point it has dramatically affected my life. I transferred one addiction to another. Now I am looking at jail time. I check into treatment Monday, court ordered.I am doing research on how alcohol and bypass has affect my body and addictions.
The Breathalyzer is measured by sugar intake. i blew levels that would make me dead. but yet I was walking talking and completely coherent. 12 hours later having three good drinks. I by no means regret surgery but wished I had the warnings on the addictions and the way drinking differs the way it hits your system after compared to before surgery.


I had gastric bypass surgery almost 5 years ago. ZI find that my addiction has transferred from food to alcohol. It started out with a glass of wine or 2 and the buzz started. I liked the feeling of being buzzed and losing all inhibitions. I am married with 2 children. Things got worse , I started drinking excessively and flirting with men. Soon I loved the buzzed feeling as well as the feeling of being wanted by strangers. It was a rush , it was exciting! I began to have affairs with these men while continuing to drink with them. It always started with a drink.
I didn't even know who I was anymore. I found myself lying to my husband time after time again always working late. ( I have a high power job in NYC so it wasn't a far stretch) I craved men and the alcohol all the time! I justified it in my head that this behavior was ok.
I even began placing ads on craigslist for married men to meet for drinks. It was so easy. I got hundreds of responses. With my new body and new look getting men was easy. I was spiraling out of control! Never thinking how this would impact my family and friends.
I was having 2 to 3 glasses of wine almost every night with my husband or my date, then my husband and I would go out with friends on the weekends and I would drink again. After 2 glasses of wine and little food I was completely bombed and slurring my words.
My friends and family started noticing something was wrong. My husband eventually found out about my cheating and lying AND MY WORLD FELL APART!

I asked my husband to leave and told him I didn't love him anymore. I thought these married men loved me and would leave their wives and children to start a new life with me.
Luckily my husband , who I met in college , new something was very wrong, that I became someone else overnite and he encouraged me to get help. I have been in counselling with him for many months. sometimes I slip up and find myself right back on cl searching for married men feeling unfullfilled and drinking again. My therapist suggested I start a blog to see if anyone out there that had gastric bypass surgery had similar experiences with alcohol and or men. Please email me or respond to my post . I am looking to start a support group with anyone who has had gastric bypass surgery and has become addicted to alcohol instead of food . Thanks for reading my story


I am an alcoholic, thanks to Gastric Bypass. I have lost 105 lbs, and gained an addiction to alcohol, I wake up, I drink, I drink at work, I drink at home, sure I sober up quick, which is why I have to drink more, I drink, I drink and I drink. I NEVER drank before surgery, took ONE drink after and it was such a fast delightful buzz, it is now a substitute for the inability to gorge myself on food. Maybe I was better off fat?


If I could reverse this surgery I would. I crossed over to alcohol and have lost a marriage of 17 years, custody of my 3 kids, have become homeless and jobless. I have lost almost everything and I am still alive!


GBS five years ago...alcoholic today. I avoided drinking for the first 18 months and slowly had a little wine. I now drink as much s 3 bottles a night blacking out and remembering nothing of how I got to bed. I have been to rehab and still can not quit. I lie, I sneak drink ,hide the bottles. I go to AA but am not finding what I need. I can't stop and I am scared. No doctor will admit that this surgery causes this addiction.Everyone wants to default to addiction transfer. Well, let me tell you that 20% of the people in rehab were GBS patients with the same story I have shared, We need the truth and we need research and we need a cure


had gbs,november of 88,been there done that,got up to a 30 pak a day,took 2 dui to stop,still drink,only 2 days a week,half case a day,have to take potassium big time if you do drink


i have definitely become an alcoholic since the surgery a year ago. Before the surgery, a beer or two on the weekends, the occasional happy hour, now I drink everyday.
No hangovers either.


Please help me! I am a wife of a GP husband of over 1yr and he is now just replaced drinking with food! Doesn't even hardly eat! Down to lowest weight and not gaining even after now onto beer and malt liquors. Heard most gastric patients have an aversion to foods/alchol and he has NONe. I am looking for a group to chat with about this. He is also in therapy for depression and the doc PRESCR meds! Now all weekend he is on meds and juiced up with alchol. I have talked to the doc with no help.

What the heck? Ifeel like going to the original GP doc and asking him for my old husband back.
Please if anyone has any place I can chat...Don't offer AA,he doesn't even think its a prob...


I feel like a major alcoholic . I liked to drink before my sugery. but this is more.

When will this end?????

Joan Boerner

I had GBS 4 years ago started drinking to fall asleep - but the effect of being drunk stays with me sometimes till 10 am in the morning at work. I am going for help - has anyone else found the lag in the effects of wine.


I am about 8 months post op and I am curious what alcohol might be the safest to try first. I am not wanting to get hammered just want to have fun with my husband and some friends for my birthday.


I don't know if anyone will see this, but I had RNY on March 25, 2010. As of today, I've lost 95 lbs :0) My dilemma (i can't believe I'm even saying this) I want something to drink. My surgeon said I can drink wine. It's okay. SMALL amts of course. But, my problem, I don't know what the sugar content is in them. I stood at the grocery store like a 'tard yesterday and NONE Of the bottles had the ingredients of sugar grams. lol So...what do you guys drink? How do I find out how much sugar is in what kind of wine so I don't dump. I'd rather NEVER drink if I will dump, ya know? Hey, thanks and boy I hope someone reads this! lol Glad I found this site!
Allie Raye


I drink up to 15 cans a beer a day. I did have some alcohol issues before RNY. I"ve lost 158 lbs ( was 373) still continue to lose weight because I choose to drink instead of eating. I guess I'm more afraid of gaining weight at this point.

I have never even had so much as an upset stomach drinking this much. NO hangover whatsoever. I really can't stop. Need to go to AA. I can't remember much of anything that happens the night before. My wife is at the end of her patience. I drink and drive almost everyday. I'm scared. I am going to a group at the hospital where I had the surgery in two weeks. Thanks for listening...Kevin


Every time I have a drink,usualy wine,I like to get up to dance but before I know it I have fallen,with no warning....very embarrassing,and you try telling people "but Ive only had 3 glasses of wine".Anyone else have problems with falling?


Yes - you can kid yourself - I am cheap drunk or whatever, the bottom line - if you drink after the bypass, you can and WILL become an alcoholic........ You drink, you get drunk, you get sober in 20 mins, you drink MORE - don't let anyone kid you, had I known, I'd still be FAT but I'd be SOBER!


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