Cross addiction after weight loss surgery
Posted on 11/24/2013 by Yvonne McCarthy / 4 Comments / Leave a Comment »
You are not alone….
My post today was inspired from an insightful blog post on OAC’s site called “Risk factors for cross addiction” by Dr. Nicole Avena.
I’m nearly 13 years post-op RNY (open gastric bypass) and this subject is by far my most passionate. There are many patients who have had weight loss surgery but have no benefits for therapy nor even much access to any education about the psychological issues associated with food addiction. My favorite description of addiction is “uncontrolled use despite negative consequences”. That certainly described my obesity perfectly.
Every day I hear from dozens of post-ops that have no one to talk to. For those who don’t live in the trenches with post-ops 24/7 there are many hidden issues that so often never reach many professionals. I have seen every kind of surgery cross addict and I believe the study about RNY and alcoholism did a huge disservice because no surgery type is exempt. (that’s a long discussion for another time) Post-ops mostly cross addict to drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, gambling and/or exercise. I have also seen many individuals get sober from drugs/alcohol and cross addict to food. Next they turn to weight loss surgery but when will they ever learn where the root problem lies? Additionally there is another subset of post-ops that hide in hush hush shadows because they “look” normal. I wrote a blog post a couple of years ago about these post-ops that pass in “normie land”. The comment section below that particular post has a wealth of information. This hidden group are the ones that do whatever is necessary to maintain their goal weight. One woman confided in me that she never thought she’d end up with a $200 a day cocaine habit. WLS Anorexia. WLS Bulimia. Included in that is the rampant opiate abuse and it’s legal because it comes from unknowing doctors (who are doing their best) when and if their patients progress to doctor shopping. Don’t even get me started on the diet drugs….
So many do not want to accept food addiction as real so why do I believe? I see the same inherent characteristics as addicts. Some don’t believe there is actually painful physical withdrawal from food. In this video you see the brilliant Tennie McCarty talk someone through food detox. Rarely have I seen video of Tennie crying …. it reflects the severe pain held so deeply in her memory.
I’ll borrow this from Dr. Phil “You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge”. There should be NO SHAME in admitting you are dealing with addiction. Addiction is a disease and the shame keeps us separate, feeling “less than”, and not asking for help. Instead of weeding out the pre-ops who show signs of addiction, I believe we should educate them at the time of surgery. Is this an easy task? Probably not any time soon but we have to start somewhere. Are we going to let the individuals who show signs of addiction die from obesity? Especially when it may be the root cause of the obesity? Even twelve years ago I gave an Oscar award winning performance in my psyche eval because I knew what they were looking for. Fortunately for me I had a doctorate in street cred on addiction because of a severely sick family member. I practice what I call “food abstinence” by eating healthy and avoiding almost all processed sugar, all processed foods and definitely no junk food. Sugar and junk food might as well be crack for me and I’m not the least bit deprived. Deprivation is losing what I have worked hard on for 12 years.
Thank you Dr. Nicole Avena for talking about this issue. The answers will come slowly but thanks to you and the many others who continue speaking out they might come a little sooner.
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Who is Bariatric Girl?
Musician, Artist, Photographer,computer geek and weight loss surgery aficionado. On March 30th, 2001, I had weight loss surgery weighing in at 260 pounds. Since that day I have lost and maintained a 130 pound loss. Yoga and walking my dog were the only exercise I was getting until I started with an instructor and creator of "Body Juggling". Click on the picture on the bottom of this page and it will take you to the site. Read More »