By now, I’m sure you’ve heard/read/seen all over the interweb, tv, and a gazillion different blogs and online news sources that xyz study has proven that there’s a problem with alcohol with weight loss surgery post-ops. Now, I’m certainly not pompous enough to dispute medical research and data, but I have an opinion about this that will likely not make me any friends within the community.
For the past four years with my involvement in the weight loss surgery community online, I’ve noticed a phenomenon that simultaneously intrigues me and infuriates me. I call it the “sheep” or “follower” mentality. People who have long wanted social and popularity acceptance finally find groups and clubs online – many on Facebook, of course – and suddenly they belong. They’re accepted. They’re celebrated. Their strengths and their flaws are celebrated – depending on the group that they are within. Now, I don’t exclude myself from this, because from time to time, I find myself needing support/friendship/acceptance/validation and run to my keyboard and Facebook. We’ve all done this, I think, at some point. But to me, there’s a big difference in a momentary lapse in judgement and reality and a “follower.”
Followers will say and do whatever they need to be accepted and receive adulation from their particular group. Sometimes it will be posting an opinion, fighting against “the man,” other times it will agreeing with other posters have said or talked about with insane adulation and blind support. It doesn’t matter what’s right and wrong, it only matters that they back your “friends” to retain their popularity and sometimes (and much worse) create conflict or drama for attention.
I read these things knowing that their responses are not based on thoughtful and insightful reasoning, but with a need to be accepted and be part of whatever particular topic or “drama” is happening. They’ll often blindly support and be less-than-insightful in the things they’ll say. Like I said, it intrigues me – because I’m so goddamned opinionated myself and I tend to overthink things, so it makes absolutely no sense to me. It also infuriates me, because there’s no reasoning or having intelligent debate with people like this. It’s like talking to a wall.
This has become particularly troublesome to me recently because of the barrage of reports linking weight loss surgery post-ops with alcohol abuse. (Note: I am in NO WAY trying to diminish the importance of these studies and the problems and addictions that people are actually struggling with. Gotta say that right from the get-go. I’ve seen plenty of it online, and can verify that there is yes, indeed, a problem.) Here are some studies and findings that you should read:
NY TIMES: Weight Loss Surgery and Alcohol Abuse
ABC: Weight Loss Surgery Increases the Risk of Alcohol Addiction
REUTERS: Alchohol Abuse Up After Weight Loss Surgery
There’s plenty more online if you do a Google Search.
The disturbing trend that I’m seeing online now in the social media networks and on blogs is the sudden admission of alcohol abuse from people crawling out of the woodwork. (Do not ask me where or who, I refuse to give any aknowledgement at all to these people). This is upsetting to me because while I’m certain that a lot of folks are very realistically struggling with alcohol abuse, many of these read as a desperate attempt to get attention. All of the sudden, oodles of people have a problem. And conveniently, right after the news of these studies and findings hit the social media waves and blogs. I find it – revolting, really.
People struggling with addiction – and in particular alcohol addiction – live with a crippling and life-threatening struggle on a daily and even hourly basis. Jumping on the social media bandwagon to try and get some attention only belittles that struggle, and the consuming and detrimental affects it can have on an individual, their family, and their friends.
As weight loss surgery patients go, we absorb alcohol very quickly and we also sober up very quickly. While I certainly don’t want to promote drinking alcohol (hell, there’s no GOOD reason why ANYONE should drink alcohol), I want to clarify that just because you have one drink and get drunk very fast – that doesn’t mean you’re an alcoholic. It means you probably shouldn’t be drinking alcohol, you can’t handle it and if you don’t watch it, you may become the reality that you’re trying so desperately to be part of. If you use this as a way to “fit in” with the current news and discussion in the weight loss surgery community, you have a whole different set of problems.
Don’t belittle addiction. It’s horrific and it’s awful. It’s NOT a popularity contest. Just STOP (both drinking AND trying to fit in by claiming you’ve got a problem).
I’ll probably get some hell for this post, but I’m okay with it. It’s not always easy to identify when someone has an addiction problem, but it’s a lot easier to identify a follower jumping on the bandwagon.