Addiction is very powerful and is characterized by use or abuse of a substance regardless, and in spite of, the obvious detrimental effects of continuing that behavior. Many obese individuals suffer from a form of food addiction and are compelled to consume food even though they know the negative consequences of doing so.
After bariatric surgery, patients will not be able to physically consume as much food as they once did, and the sugary and fatty foods that often lead to food addiction become off-limits. As a result, the brain looks for stimulation beyond the food that is no longer available. The body craves something that will give it the feeling that the food once satisfied. This is where addiction substitution comes in.
For many people, addiction substitution is not a problem or can be managed with relative ease through support groups and some professional counseling. But for others, losing the comfort that food provided can lead to other addictions or addictive behaviors such as substance abuse, anorexia, bulimia and other extreme actions. Not only are these problems self-destructive in and of themselves, but they can also cause serious complications after any form of surgery, including bariatric surgery.
How does one manage the possibility of addiction substitution? You will likely receive a psychological consultation before surgery. Doing so will help the surgical practice determine if you have a propensity for addictive behavior. Further, no one knows you better than you. That means you should be open to yourself and your medical team, divulging any suspicions you may have about your addictive tendencies. You may want to seek professional help as you start to recover from surgery. This will allow the mental health counselor to guide you through the withdrawal from food and help you devise a plan to make sure that you enjoy life without the need to substitute destructive substances or actions.
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