Alcohol and other substance use after bariatric surgery: prospective evidence from a U.S. multicenter cohort study

Wendy C. King, Jia Yuh Chen, Anita P. Courcoulas, Gregory F. Dakin, Scott G. Engel, David R. Flum, Marcelo W. Hinojosa, Melissa A. Kalarchian, Samer G. Mattar, James E. Mitchell, Alfons Pomp, Walter J. Pories, Kristine J. Steffen, Gretchen E. White, Bruce M. Wolfe, Susan Z. Yanovski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Scopus citations


Background Empirical evidence suggests Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) increases risk of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD). However, prospective assessment of substance use disorders (SUD) after bariatric surgery is limited. Objective To report SUD-related outcomes after RYGB and laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB). To identify factors associated with incident SUD-related outcomes. Setting 10 U.S. hospitals Methods The Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery-2 is a prospective cohort study. Participants self-reported past-year AUD symptoms (determined by the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test), illicit drug use (cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants, phencyclidine, amphetamines, or marijuana), and SUD treatment (counseling or hospitalization for alcohol or drugs) presurgery and annually postsurgery for up to 7 years through January 2015. Results Of 2348 participants who underwent RYGB or LAGB, 2003 completed baseline and follow-up assessments (79.2% women, baseline median age: 47 years, median body mass index 45.6). The year-5 cumulative incidence of postsurgery onset AUD symptoms, illicit drug use, and SUD treatment were 20.8% (95% confidence interval (CI): 18.5–23.3), 7.5% (95% CI: 6.1–9.1), and 3.5% (95% CI: 2.6–4.8), respectively, post-RYGB, and 11.3% (95% CI: 8.5–14.9), 4.9% (95% CI: 3.1–7.6), and.9% (95% CI:.4–2.5) post-LAGB. Undergoing RYGB versus LAGB was associated with higher risk of incident AUD symptoms (adjusted hazard ratio or AHR = 2.08 [95% CI: 1.51–2.85]), illicit drug use (AHR = 1.76 [95% CI: 1.07–2.90]) and SUD treatment (AHR = 3.56 [95% CI: 1.26–10.07]). Conclusions Undergoing RYGB versus LAGB was associated with twice the risk of incident AUD symptoms. One-fifth of participants reported incident AUD symptoms within 5 years post-RYGB. AUD education, screening, evaluation, and treatment referral should be incorporated in pre- and postoperative care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1392-1402
Number of pages11
JournalSurgery for Obesity and Related Diseases
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2017


  • Abuse
  • Addiction
  • Disorder
  • Gastric band
  • Obese
  • Roux-en-Y gastric bypass
  • Substance use
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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