All Kinds Of Addictions Can Occur After Extreme Weight Loss

You’ve heard the story: Jared Fogle lost a whopping 245 pounds while he was an Indiana University student eating just Subway sandwiches, two a day for one year.

He was featured in a November 1999 Men’s Health Issue in a story dubbed, “Stupid Diets… that Work!” This Subway Diet was his claim to fame, and he became a very effective spokesman for Subway. In fact, he’s one of the most effective advertising spokesmen in history.

However, in 2015, his claim to fame came crashing down. He pleaded guilty to child porn distribution and having sex with underage girls. He was given a 15-year federal prison sentence. He lost his job, his marriage and freedom.

Addiction Transfers: Do They Happen?

During the sentencing stage, Fogle’s attorneys argued he had transferred the food addiction he had to a sex addiction.

  • Is that even possible?
  • If it can happen, how does a transfer work?
  • And, if you can do have an addiction to one thing, how can you completely recover without a worse addiction going into place.

For the first questions, it is entirely possible for one addiction to be replaced with another addiction. Bear in mind that addiction is a psychological issue –a compulsive drive to do something repeatedly because there’s an emotional purpose behind it. If one addition source has been removed, it’s anticipated to go elsewhere.

Of course, this doesn’t excuse Fogle of his crimes. It just gives his lawyers’ argument more weight. The problems plaguing the once 425-pound man were never resolved even after he managed to lose the weight and become 180 pounds. He was able to build a great career but he could never regain the weight if he wanted to keep it.

Another example of addiction transfer is when people who’ve undergone weight loss surgery increase their usage of alcohol.

In a 2013 study published in JAMA Surgery, increase in alcohol consumption is found more in the surgery Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, where the stomach is decreased to egg size. Patients are advised not to drink much during the first month after the surgery. Then, over time, increase the consumption. 24 months after the procedure, the average person consumer 66 percent more than they did before they had the operation.

It’s not clear why this happens. It’s thought that the patient’s physiology was altered in such a dramatic way that one drop of alcohol gives them an amazing rush – something they wished would continue.

Still, it does not really explain why patients crave the drink even more. It’s begs to question, is there something else happening?

Looking At The Body’s Chemistry

Consider your body’s chemistry – There are a ton of chemical messages being sent that make you feel better or feel worse, usually trigged by the decisions you make and the behaviors you exhibit.

If you had to choose just one, start with dopamine, which is known as the pleasure hormone. Nearly everything that is pleasurable released dopamine in the brain. For instance, exercise, religion and work is strengthened with dopamine.

However, the same goes for compulsive activities, amphetamines and alcohol.

An addiction could be created by messing with dopamine’s receptors. This is happening to people who suffer with Parkinson’s disease and doctors are prescribing medications that stimulate the production of dopamine. It’s caused some patients to become pathological gamblers or have sexual compulsions. Once the drugs were stopped, the compulsions stopped.

According to brain-imaging studies, alcohol will stimulate the same brain part as food does, which is why overweight/obese people are at lower risk for being alcoholics or drug users. For overweight people, binge eating causes the reward circuitry to work the same way as alcohol, drugs and gambling does to someone addicted to them.

This provides an explanation as to why somebody would drink alcohol years after their gastric-bypass surgery. If they’re unable to physically consume food to get the effect they want, they’ll turn to something that produces it.

Since alcohol is an inexpensive source to get that pleasure, the addiction to the high is almost immediate.

Of course, addiction is not all that simple.

3 Mistakes People Make About Addictions

There was a time that people looked at addicts as being hedonists, only looking to attain pleasure. Today, the blame is placed entirely on dopamine. People say it’s because they want rewards. However, if that’s what an addiction is, then people wouldn’t suffer with addictions.

Another misnomer is that addictions are destructive. However, if a person suffers with an alcohol addiction and suddenly stops drinking, they may begin compulsively cleaning their house. This is a transference of addictions.

Another error people make is that addiction has something to do with a particular kind of drug – definite news to people who grew up on the mantra “Just Say No”. This theory was debunked back in 1974 when a study was conducted on Vietnam veterans coming back. It found that a minute number of them used heroin overseas and continued it upon their return. Some were using the drug already before they headed overseas.

The one thing addictions have in common with each other is that they’re all indirect. The recurring behavior is just a reaction to an issue that doesn’t deal with the issue.

If a person feels disappointed or aggravated, they don’t need a fifth of gin to make it better. However, it does make a drinker feel like they’re doing something.

Addictions only make sense when there is some motivation behind it all. Addictions are needed to reverse their helplessness feelings. And, this means getting help from a therapist and finding out what works for someone.

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About Dr Patrick Fraser

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