Patients who have undergone bariatric surgery compulsively trade groceries for groceries, medicines and alcohol

Patients who have undergone bariatric surgery compulsively trade groceries for groceries, medicines and alcohol

Four years ago, Joyce Costa lost 40 kg after bariatric surgery.

“After the operation, when she reached the goal, she was a different woman. I was happy, things have changed a lot,” remembers her husband Juliano Ribeiro.

1 of 3 Joyce Costa lost 40 kg after bariatric surgery — Photo: Professão Repórter

Joyce Costa lost 40 kg after bariatric surgery — Photo: Professão Repórter

Seven months after the operation, she discontinued the psychiatric and psychological aftercare and initially replaced the binge eating with shopping. Already in the pandemic, for sleeping pills.

“I found a lot of medicines in the house. I even stopped counting. It started to affect me, my kids too. We couldn’t rest anymore,” said Juliano.

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2 of 3 program talked to Joyce’s family — Photo: Professão Repórter

Program spoke to Joyce’s family — Photo: Professão Repórter

Realizing she needed help, Joyce asked to be admitted to a psychiatric facility.

“I miss her a lot but I know she is there to improve,” said their son Gabriel Bernardes, 12.

Joyce’s case is not unique. About 30% of all chemically dependent patients admitted to the same clinic as them in São Paulo also underwent bariatric surgery.

“I took my pills and took them to erase everything I had been through. I locked myself in the room to erase my day. I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror, I wasn’t paying attention,” Joyce said.

Unlike Joyce, Janete Macedo, who is also an inpatient at the clinic, was not obese. When he had obesity surgery 7 years ago, he was overweight, but not enough to have an indication for surgery. Janet then started a diet to gain weight and with 10kg more she was able to have surgery.

“If I had followed a regimen of medical, psychological guidance and therapy, I could have been successful,” he said.

3 of 3 Joyce and Janete are hospitalized at a clinic in São Paulo — Photo: Profissão Repórter

Joyce and Janete are hospitalized at a clinic in São Paulo — Photo: Profissão Repórter

Of those who have had bariatric surgery and are hospitalized, 95% suffer from alcoholism, like Janete. It is her fourth hospitalization.

The alcoholic beverage is the main substance in the forced exchange processes.

“It is important to say that the operation does not cause alcoholism. These patients already have some compulsion and are switching to alcohol. You trade one compulsion for another. So followup care is important,” explained psychologist Dolores Pinheiro.

“It helps if you do something more regimented and get a medical checkup,” Joyce said.

“Now I want to enjoy life, I want to get out of here well,” said Janete.