Weight-loss surgery may increase painkiller dependence

According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, obese individuals increased their use of opioid-based painkillers after having bariatric surgery which was intended to relieve some of their chronic pain. 

A research team from Kaiser Permanente examined the medical records of over 11,000 obese patients who underwent bariatric surgery between 2005 and 2009 and evaluated them one year before and after the procedure. They found that 77 percent of individuals who used painkillers before surgery, continued to use them after, and their intake had increased by an average of 13 percent. This result was surprising because weight loss has been found to reduce chronic pain on the knees and joints caused by carrying extra pounds.

"Our premise was that because patients who are undergoing bariatric surgery were undergoing such dramatic weight loss, whatever chronic pain they were going through would be relieved and their need for medication would be reduced," stated Marsha Raebel, the study's lead investigator, in a press release. "We were very surprised to find we were totally wrong. Not only did their chronic use of opioids not go down, it actually went up."

Raebel also said that doctors who are suggesting weight-loss surgery to their patients should counsel them more about what they should expect to happen after the procedure. It may not completely eliminate pain for everyone and patients should be prepared for that possibility. She added that bariatric surgery patients and their doctors develop alternative ways to deal with some of the pain. 

If a friend or relative is abusing prescription painkillers, don't hesitate to contact Intervention Services today. We can provide you with an experienced interventionist who can help you get your loved one into an effective treatment program.

Intervention ServicesWeight-loss surgery may increase painkiller dependence