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Patients taking Ozempic report losing desire to drink alcohol

The diabetes drug has already made headlines for its alleged weight loss benefits. Now, another surprising side effect is garnering attention.
Posted at 7:12 PM, Mar 02, 2023

A name brand drug that's typically used to help people manage type 2 diabetes may have some other surprising side effects.

Some patients who have taken the prescription drug Semaglutide, sold under the brand name Ozempic, have reported losing their desire to drink alcohol.

The drug already made headlines earlier this year after going viral as a possible treatment for obesity. On TikTok, videos using #Ozempic have garnered nearly 400 million views.

Now, the drug is leaving many researchers wondering if the drug could also be used to treat people with alcoholism.

Dr. Ryan Marino is the Medical Director of Toxicology and Addiction Medicine at the University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and he says while the possibility exists, people shouldn't rush to get it for that reason.

"We know how it regulates insulin production and the way sugar is metabolized, but it also seems to have an affect on reward signaling processes in the brain," Marino said.

"There have been animal studies with similar drugs showing very promising effects, not just for alcohol, but for all addiction."

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, over 14 million people in the U.S. suffered from alcohol use disorder (AUD) in 2019. Meanwhile, less than 4% of people with AUD were prescribed FDA-approved medication for treatment.

As for Ozempic potentially being used to treat AUD, the current science is minimal. However, Dr. Marino says there are ways for people with AUD to help advance research on the drug's effectiveness in treating addiction.

"If people are interested in this, I would recommend talking to your doctor or health care provider and not trying to get this [Ozempic] off-label for that indication," Marino said. "But participating in the research could be promising and would help advance our understanding of it."

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