Alcohol and Gastric Bypass Surgery

By Jonathan Blecher on January 31, 2019

For a long time, the law enforcement community has known that certain factors, such as age, gender, food intake, medication, illness, the strength of drink and rate of consumption can all affect a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). But gastric bypass surgery? Now that’s a new one to most people, but it deserves mention.

In Bariatric Times, Cynthia K. Buffington, Ph.D., wrote about a 32-year-old man who was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) four months after his gastric bypass surgery.

The man was cited for DUI shortly after he left his brother’s wedding reception and according to the man, he only drank one glass of champagne, but his BAC was above the .08% legal limit to drive a vehicle.

Ms. Buffington also wrote about a 50-year-old woman who hit and killed a pedestrian one year after having gastric bypass surgery. The woman drank less than two glasses of wine, but her behavior said otherwise.

When the police arrived on the scene, the woman was slurring her words and two hours after the arrest, she could not maintain her balance and she still wasn’t speaking clearly, making officials suspect that she had more like a bottle or two of wine.

Were the Patients Lying to the Police?

Ms. Buffington asked readers, “Were these patients telling the truth about the amount of alcohol they had consumed, or did bariatric surgery affect the way their bodies absorb or metabolize alcohol?” She concluded that it was the latter.

Ms. Buffington explained that a survey was conducted on gastric bypass patients and as it turns out, 90% of patients claimed to be more sensitive to the effects of alcohol after the operation. Most of them reported feeling the effects of alcohol after only taking a few sips.

The findings suggested that gastric bypass surgery alters how alcohol is absorbed or metabolized by the body and that it does it in such a manner that patients experience increased sensitivity to alcohol. To read the full article, click here.

Related: 6 Facts About a First DUI in Florida

If you’re facing DUI charges after having very little to drink and you happen to have gastric bypass surgery, I urge you to contact my firm today. I can explain your legal options as well as the Back on Track Program.

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