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Understanding Addiction In those Suffering from Obesity

By Dr. Matthew Lublin, Bariatric Surgeon

As a bariatric surgeon, many patients come into my office wanting to lose a significant amount of weight, thinking that once the weight is gone, all their problems will cease to exist – the burdens, both physical and mental, that they’ve been carrying for years, will be wiped away. While it is easy to blame all of our problems on our weight or appearance, and certainly many problems stem from that, it is not often as simple as losing weight that allows us to resolve our deep-seated issues.

The reasons behind addiction, including food addiction, are many and complex. It’s not as simple as enjoying food so much that we just can’t stop. Rather, many emotional factors that may extend back to our childhood often cause the problems that lead to addiction and, in turn, obesity. That’s why it’s so important for those who are formerly obese to receive counseling for the issues that ultimately caused that obesity.

Getting counseling from a licensed therapist or addiction specialist can be the difference between long-term weight loss and regaining much of the weight very quickly. It can also allow for wounds to begin to heal and offer the weight loss patient a shot at a new life.

The decision to undergo counseling is often as hard as the decision to undergo bariatric surgery; it is not easy and is life-changing. However, most of our patients who do decide to enter into long-term, or even short-term counseling, feel the positive effects almost immediately. Counseling sessions can be supported by various support groups, including Overeaters Anonymous and other weight-related support systems.

Further, involving family and friends in the counseling program, can be very beneficial as they are the ones who stand by us each and every day. Allowing them to get some insight into what we feel can have a profound benefit in keeping us on the right track.

No matter what addiction-related affliction we have, it’s not as easy as cutting out the substance cold turkey. Rather, a comprehensive counseling program must be implemented as well in order to achieve true success.

Dr. Matthew Lublin is a leading weight loss and general surgeon in Los Angeles, California. He is affiliated with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica.