Addiction Transfer or Cross Addiction is when the person switches from a compulsive behavior to another compulsive behavior. In bariatric patients, compulsive eating is switched to another one, such as gambling, shopping, exercise, or sex. These are called process or behavioral addictions.
The patient can also transfer to other behaviors like alcohol or drug abuse, including cigarettes.
The patient can no longer find reward, distraction, escape, or comfort in eating due to the restrictive surgery and therefore seeks the effect that food addiction offered in different behavior.
After a period of remission, the patient may return to food addiction.
This can be treated with psychotherapy. It is only one of many reasons to get psychological help as part of your complete post-surgery treatment, and at Mexicali Bariatric Center, we consider it essential for lasting results and achieving a healthy lifestyle.
We also recommend that if you are considering bariatric surgery, get counseling from a licensed mental health professional who focuses on bariatric patients before your surgery and continue after it. This is the best strategy to avoid transfer addiction and get the best results possible from your bariatric surgery.
Therapy will tackle stress management and self-esteem issues that contribute to addiction that may become more evident once food is limited through surgery.
Some patients are more prone to addiction transfer than others. Experts state that there are risk factors that may promote addiction transfer such as a history of compulsive eating, substance abuse, depression, and previous regular alcohol use.
Other factors include a feeling of being isolated, childhood sexual abuse, trauma, chronic use of painkillers, and self-sabotaging tendencies.
Scientists believe that addiction may be due to biological reasons, however, studies have also shown, that psychotherapy is a remedy for this problem. Behavioral and cognitive interventions allow for decision-making and control to take place.
If you are struggling with compulsive behavior after surgery or are currently eating compulsively, the first step is to admit you have a problem. Next, seek professional help to treat addiction, make yourself accountable to friends and family, and consider joining a 12 step group such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.