Opioid Addiction After Surgery

Researchers have found that patients who undergo bariatric surgery have a higher risk of developing an addiction to pain medication.

Currently, the United States is in the midst of an opioid crisis. According to the National Center for Health Statistics’, the number of deaths from opioid drug overdose rose by 23 percent in 2017. The most common opioid doesn't have to obtained illegally, it is most likely is found in your medicine cabinet. 

Painkillers are opioids

The most common type of opioid is prescription painkillers. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens, opioids provide some pain-numbing effects that are beneficial to those who are suffering from serious injuries or surgery. “But opioids also affect the brain’s reward system, which can make people feel euphoric (high). Some people take opioid medications just to feel that high. If you’re taking a prescription pain medicine to get high, you’re misusing it, and putting yourself at risk for addiction and other health problems.”

Addiction after weight loss surgery is considered one of the largest risks factors. Doctors prescribe opioids medicines such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin as pain management after surgery. These medications do not increase the risk of developing ulcers in the surgical area. If taken longer than the prescribed period, health problems may develop such as weakened immune system, gastric problems, and injuries to organs.

Do not continue to take the prescription medicine longer than prescribed, this increases your risk of becoming addicted.

Signs of Abuse

According to DrugAbuse.com, signs of drug abuse include:

• Noticeable euphoria
• Marked sedation/drowsiness
• Confusion
• Dilated pupils
• Slowed breathing
• Loss of consciousness
• Constipation
• Dramatic mood swings
• Social isolation
• Doctor Shopping (getting multiple prescriptions from different doctors)
• Dependency and craving for the drug

If you believe you or a loved one may be addicted seek addiction treatment immediately.


The three main options for opioid treatment includes detoxification, inpatient rehab, and outpatient therapy.

Detoxification is the withdrawal of medication with the use of other stabilizing medication under the supervision of a medical treatment team. Inpatient rehab, or residential rehab, involved constant supervision in a rehab center to assist with withdrawal symptoms, nutritional health, and counseling. Outpatient therapy is treatment from outside a rehab center, meeting with a counselor and group to discuss or participate in activities that promote recovery from opiates.

The support of your friends and family can help you and your counselor create an effective coping system that will get you on the road to recovery faster.