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March 05, 2008

Food Addict, Alcoholic and Gastric Bypass patient: This is Kris

Woman_in_shadow I get a lot of email from my readers. A few weeks ago I got touching story about Kris. She agreed to write her story for all of us to know, her feelings and complications in life, before and after Gastric Bypass. This is Kris:

My name is Kris and I am a food addict and alcoholic. I have become quite familiar with that saying because I attend 12-step meetings approximately 4 times a week.  I had roux-en-y gastric bypass on Dec. 26, 2000. I had no physical complications post surgery, but the emotional/psychological implications have taken a toll. I lost 1/2 of my body weight (I started at 300 and went down to 145) within a relatively short amount of time. Before I knew it, I was spending money wildly and went bankrupt. Next came the relief of alcohol. I was not an alcoholic prior to gastric bypass, but addiction transfer and depression had taken control.


I was a college graduate, professional woman, and successful at almost everything I tried.  I could not understand how I could become a completely out-of-control drunk after being arrested for OWI/DUI on June 23, 2006.  I drank daily for three years. I drank until I blacked-out.  In the morning, I swore I would never drink again until the afternoon cravings controlled my every thought.  I thought that I had just lost all self-control after a visit with my WLS surgeon in December 2005.  I asked him if my WLS had anything to do with my alcoholism—he denied any connection.  Furthermore, I experienced all over body PAIN, even though I was dedicated to taking supplements.  By September 2006, I would go through periods of such excruciating overall body pain that I had difficulty walking and completing normal daily activities.  My head was in such a fog, felt dizzy and nauseated all of the time, and had such difficulty concentrating, I felt as if I was going crazy.  Doctors did not seem to have much concern about the pain.  They said that it was probably fibromyalgia.

In August 2006, I entered substance abuse treatment, but continued to have intense cravings for alcohol, began putting on weight, and still suffered from horrible pain and no self-control.  I have periodically relapsed with alcohol within the past 1.5 years.  In October 2007, I started seeing a psychiatrist.  I, of course, went through all of the lengthy psychological exams, and was diagnosed with  alcoholism and mild depression.  He immediately put me on 20 mg of Prozac.  In December 2007, to help control the continued alcohol cravings, added a drug called ReVia (an opioid-blocking drug, which is also approved for reducing the cravings of alcohol).  Amazingly, I no longer had any body pain within one hour of taking 50 mg of ReVia, and the depression also lifted much more than the Prozac alone.  However, after 18 hours of pain/alcohol craving relief, the effects of ReVia would begin to wear off.  ReVia (at 50 mg) is only approved for short-term use.  Since I knew that there was some way to relieve the pain and alcohol cravings, I began to research what was going on in my body.

My personal belief is that since the vagus nerve is cut during RNYGB surgery, there are long-term psychological effects. I have also put most of the weight I had lost after surgery back on since working on trying to control other impulsiveness problems, thus my PCP didn’t feel the need to run blood tests because I should be getting all of the appropriate nutrients from food.

While searching for an answer as to why I do not feel pain while taking ReVia, I ran across a study on the effects of alcoholism and thiamine (Vitamin B-1) deficiency. 

Please see:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000339.htm http://alcalc.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/31/4/421.pdf

I am not in the medical field, wasn’t getting much help from my PCP, but also knew that I needed to be my own advocate if anything was going to improve.  I then continued researching thiamine deficiency, and also found that gastric bypass can also cause thiamine deficiency.  (Some of you may have been educated about this fact during surgical prep/follow-up, but this was all new to me.)  I had always kept up on my daily multi-vitamin, calcium citrate, B-12, B-100 complex, and iron.

On February 16, 2008, I began taking large doses of GNC B-1 and Big 100.  Within 24 hours, I started to feel “normal” again.  I now have full 24-hour pain relief, can once again concentrate on something other than food and alcohol, and do not feel nauseated all of the time.  I also lost 10 pounds in three days (from fluid retention).  I now only take recommended doses and continue to feel good.  Needless to say, I will be making an appointment to have my full lab tests run within the next week.  Hopefully, these positive results will continue.

The most important thing that I learned is that it is not hopeless.  Continue searching for answers, and make sure that you are your own advocate!


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Charles Donovan

The vagus nerve is the largest cranial nerve in the body averaging 25 inches. It is the only nerve that starts in the brainstem and extends, through the jugular foramen, down below the head, to the neck, chest and abdomen. So there is scientific relevance to your conclusion about the psychological aspects of the vagus nerve.

Pam from CT


I had the gastric bypass surgery in 2001. I'm beginning to regain the weight, and am now 60 pounds overweight. My surgeon will do the stomaphyx surgery for me, but the cost is approx. 12k. My insurance didn't pay for any of it, and I will have to find a way to pay again. I don't have the money I need to be healthy, and walking has become painful again. I'm asking God for help and direction. I am a hospice, red cross and local hospital volunteer. I do many things for others, yet I'm also in need. If you say a prayer for me, maybe we both can find our solutions that we need and finally peace. Living like this is difficult. I appreciate your time in reading this. I wasn't born rich, like many of us, but this isn't cosmetic. I just want to have quality of life.


I did a search for pain in body after gastric bypass and this was the third site down. It's like reading myself. I had gastric bypass RNY surgery 2004 and have been "successful" in the eyes of the dr. I am 160 pounds from 422 and "look great" Except I have been abusing everything under the sun since. Now sober, I have not felt good at all in YEARS my back and body behaves as if its still carrying the weight and constantly aches. I have to use the bathroom every ten minutes and its severely painful during those "flares" I wonder if there isnt some truth in what you post and while exploring it myself I want to thank you in advance should it be true for me too!


I just read my story, only minus some of the pain issues......thank you. I too have become an out of control alcoholic/addict since losing all the weight (200 pounds). Recently started to gain a bit back, and along with the other addictions am completely miserable, and terrified. It helps to read other people's experiences.....


Wow, from reading your story I am totally blown away. I had gastric bypass in 2006 and have been abusing alcohol off and on since summer 2007. I read the article and it was like seeing what could happen to me if I don't get it under control. I am going to look into the vitamin thing and hope that makes a difference. Thank you for your story.


I would really like to hear an update on this story... has the vitamin B helped over the past 2 months, what did the labs look like when they came back?


I am scheduled for the bypass surgery in late December. I am looking forward to the surgery, I hope to reduce from 375 lbs to around 195 lbs. I feel this must be a planed event with support pre surgery and understand the road will be hard and long. I look for the reward and understand the changers that must be made. I will make it because I have faith in myself. I also know the reward is a better life.


OMG! I am insane! I had my RNY in June 2003. I've been 'sober' 34 days and have already gained 15 pounds. I'm freaking out about it and my mental sickness says go ahead and take your 'drug of choice' - it will keep you thin. Any help or suggestions out there would be great.

Maria Muniozguren

I had the operation on 11/05/2007. I was at 263 and am now at 170 and I feel wonderful. God blessed me with this surgery. I do not have type 2 diabetis any longer and I have not had to use my asthma inhaler in 10 months. I am so sorry to hear about this problem that so many of you are having. As for me I am doing great. I wish the best to all you. God Bless

Tammi Barber

WOW! I had a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass in November of 1999. I have gained back all of my weight and am again considering another surgery. I too am also an alcoholic, however, I have been sober for @ 5 years. I have severe chronic pain and my primary care doctor has recently given me the diagnosis of Narcotic dependency because I have regularly taken percoset for my pain. I just completed a chronic pain program and it helped tremendously. But it didn't alleviate all of the pain. It did however help me to cope with it. It is surprising that I just happened to read this website because it is almost my story. Just yesterday I was at my doctor office and they suggested the vitamin b deficiency and diagnosed arthritis as well. In regard to gaining back ALL OF MY WEIGHT, (I wouldn't wish it on anyone who has went through such a drastic measure to feel better and get better) It is good to know that I am not alone. So many times in the last year, and moreso that last week I have felt like I am a failure for regaining my weight. I have gained back 100 pounds, and I feel overwhelmed and disgusted with myself. I hope that I can do the surgery again. I would do it in two seconds if I could because initially it changed my life
However, the psychological issues were still there and I have real depression and anger issues, and I turned it in on myself ALOT. Hence, I ate sugar, and more sugar, and lots of comfort food. Not because Iwanted to but because I was abusing myself any way I knew how. That is why the psychological aspect is so IMPORTANT. God Bless all of you that are struggling, and also those who have got an new lease on life. God loves us all and we need to love ourselves.


These stories sound all too familiar to me. My daughter had GBS about eight years ago. She went from around 400 lbs. down to 160. Weight wise, she has done a great job of keeping the weight off. I believe the MOST she gained post surgery was 20 pounds. She did however, become a alcoholic/prescription drug addict. She struggles every day with these "demons" as I call them. That old adage about "Be careful what you wish for,cause you just may get it" seems so appropriate. Being normal size again was something she dreamed and prayed for. She is left now with MORE addictions to fight every day. I feel for all of you, and wish someone could fix the WHOLE person.


I not surprised by the above comments. Many of my clients come seeking relief from alcohol problems whose onset coinsides with gastric bypass or lapband surgery. While the explanation is simple, merely substituting one form of substance abuse for another, the cure isn't easy. Essentially our clients are faced with fising whatever the pre-existing problem was.

The good news is that we are usually able to do this using research based approaches rather than the old discredited AA based ones, but it is still wrenching for these clients to realize that they could have achieved the same weight loss without the surgery had they been treated for causes rather than symptoms. They've also expressed dismay that they were never informed that alcohol abuse is a very common result of the surgery, affecting anywhere from 25% to 75% of patients depending on whose statistics you care to believe.




I have similar tales to tell. My bypass was in 2000 and worked wonderfully. I lost 130 lb in 6 months. Now 10 years later I find I have gained 100 lb back, with all the embarrassment and frustration that implies. Alcohol was not discussed prior to my surgery-I did not drink. About 5 years ago I found myself divorced and in a new social circle, and found I really enjoyed wine. Like most of you have reported, it hits me quickly and leaves me quickly. I can drink a bottle of wine easily on my own, and feel pretty much ok the next day. Recently I have become aware of the drinking/bypass connection and I must say it is frightening. For the last few months I have limited drinking to weekends and holidays but got sidetracked after an emotional upset over New Year's and found myself drinking nightly again. I was searching today for information about the issues with alcohol after bypass surgery and found this site. I am convinced now that I need to be cautious about this issue and set serious limits for myself.I have not decided yet what those might be. I do believe that we are not like everyone else and alcohol does not react in our bodies like "normal" bodies. I have a long way to go to get my weight under control; I think my need to get alcohol under control needs precedence right now, the weight will follow.


I am Kris, and I have much reading to do since I originally posted this message. Soon after I posted, I started working full-time again for the first time in three years. I am so glad to see the postings. I haven't taken the time yet to read through them thoroughly, but will do so. I am doing better addiction-wise. I have now lost 55 pounds (sensibly). The alcohol cravings come and go, but seem to fade sooner and faster. I will take the time to read the postings and add another comment on Friday (on my day off). I will catch you all up on the blood results, doctor visits, etc. BTW-the Vitamin B-1 is still working (I stopped taking it and the pain did return, and I have since started taking smaller more frequent dosages.) Thank you to all of you!!! Your support and understanding means the world to me!


Hello, I am Sonya. I had the mini gastric bypass in 2004. Weighing in at 285, I am now at 150 and 5'6". I have been at this weight for years now, and don't have to work so much to maintain it. I am anemic, but that is my only health issue. I never was a big drinker; just here and there socially. About a year and a half ago I started drinking a glass of wine every now and then. As of about 6 months ago I drink wine every day, all day and all night. I usually consume 2-3 bottles in a 24 hour period. I have black outs; wake up with bruises, cuts, and once a black eye. I can not believe this is me. Anyway, I am in AA and have been sober for 2 weeks. I feel clear headed but my hands still tremble from the alcohol withdrawal. I am a professional woman with my own financial business. I live in a 3000 sq ft home with a pool in a wonderful neighborhood. I have a 10 year old daughter that is wonderful, and I have done all this by myself, no husband. How is it I have become so weak? I wish someone would have advised me about the transfer addiction. I didn't see a therapist because I have never been depressed. Oh well, onward bound with the AA.

God bless all.

dal bdr. gurung

i am alcoholic i am suffered from gastric problem at least one month.so how to cure this problem sir?

Barbara Dotson

I am Barbara and had gastric bypass surgery June 13, 2008. I lost half of my weight which started at 350. Alchohol has been a big part of my life. Its like I substituted the food for alcohol. I also feel pain in my body almost daily. At first I attributed it to working out, but it has not easied up any. Thank you Kris for drawing attention to this issue.


My name is Jaime I have a cousin that had this gastric bypass surgery about 9 years ago. She was never a drinker before the surgery and is now a full blown alcoholic. My family and I are trying to help but we are running out of options as she has pushed us all away. The last couple years have been getting worse as she is getting violent while drinking. I am looking for any help available she has had 3 DWI's been to treatment and is in AA but this is not working. We are afraid she is going to loose her job and her home. Does anyone have any other advice for us?


I always loved red wine and could buy a case and stock my wine rack and it would last forever. I had surgery and NOW drink a bottle of red wine a day. It seems to creep up on you and you seem to be fine after two glasse and the can't remember drinking the third or the fourth. This is a serious problem that has resulted after surgery. I NEVER had this problem before. The medical profession and all the studys need to listen to the feedback. It is not just a transfer of addiction....There is a craving and what is this craving caused by. I went to an AA meeting tonight to learn some more and I am still convience and will continue to research and be an advocate of this subject matter. I was a prisoner of my life before surgery and now I feel like a prisioner of my life because of the effects of the wine and I will not go out and put myself in danger anymore. Please post you stories the more that is told and shared the getter voice we will have!!!!!


I have had my RNY in May09. Ive lost 95 lbs and still loosing. I was an impulsive spender and a drinker before my surgery. I did quit drinking 6 months prior to my surgery. Soon after surgery I too started to spend uncontrollably which led has let me to Bankruptcy. I quit spending and started drinking. I was also taking Vicodin. Eventually I couldn't get my vicodin refilled. I started getting really depressed, so I began to see a therapist weekly. In therapy I learned that food addictions and eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes and that I had both. I really was in denial about this. That's when I started drinking a lot. I was having food anxiety and I needed a glass of wine just to be able to face a dinner table. I was pretty destructive to myself through November and December and was feeling really weak and not well. Finally just before New Year's Eve, I knew I had to stop. I came clean to my therapist about my drinking problem. She insisted if I continued to drink it will effect my health and weight Loss. When I quit drinking I found therapy to be much more productive. The feelings I am feeling are very painful and very raw, but I am feeling and dealing with them rather than covering them up with food, shopping or alcohol. I am still dealing with depression mostly due to these raw feelings. I am learning to use my voice and stand up for myself which is great but in turn is causing problems in a few very close relationships.
I truly had no idea of the psychological effect that a drastic weight loss can have on the psyche. Im thankful I read about addiction transfer before my surgery (although It didn't pertain to me because I was not a food addict) I think having known about it helped me identify it, but it was never discussed as a possible problem from anyone that I saw pre-surgery.
I have been seeing my therapist weekly for 6 months. I am convinced that dealing with the issues that contributed to my weight gain and drinking problem prior to surgery will prevent them from creeping up on me in the future. Until then I am committed to feeling all the feeling I have tried to hide and address the issues Ive been to afraid to confront. For me it is the key to my long term success.

Mini Gastric Bypass Surgery Mexico

The mini gastric bypass surgery is the simplest surgery that induces reduction in the amount of food that the stomach can hold. This in turn will make less fat and

calories to be absorbed through the small intestine.


I had the surgery Oct 2008, I am gaining back too. About 10 lbs so far. I will apply myself better after reading a lot of these comments. I did not go through all of this to gain this weight back. I will exercise more and EAT less, I can do this. I don't drink alcohol so I can't say I understand your situation. I do know, that I refuse to get fat again, and will start taking control of my life. I am not an addict, I refuse to believe that. I am getting married, and I am very happy in my life. I will eat healthier, keep the fattening foods away, and keep control. Thanks for listening.


addictions are the test of life. Good luck to anyone attempting to break their vices.

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The Gold Coast Diet


My name is Stacy and I had GBS in Oct. 1999. Lost 125 pounds and have kept it off. About 5 years ago I developed a drinking problem and I am currently struggling with it. I just wanted to comment on the pain issue. About 3 years ago I was in constant pain, deep pain, like it was in my bones. It took some time but I was diagnosed with a severe B-12 and Vitamin D deficiency. Now that my labs show good levels my pain is gone. I encourage anyone complaining of wide spread pain to have extensive blood work done. Now, if I could just fix the drinking problem. AA doesn't seem appropriate for me. Perhaps a food addiction group? Any suggestions?


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