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Wegovy, Ozempic May Help Curb Alcohol Dependence
  • Posted June 4, 2024

Wegovy, Ozempic May Help Curb Alcohol Dependence

Could the blockbuster GLP-1 meds like Wegovy and Ozempic have a role to play in helping people cut down on problem drinking? A new study suggests so.

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland report that obese folks with drinking issues who took the drugs to shed pounds had an up to 56% reduction in re-occurrence of alcohol use disorder over one year later, compared to those not using the meds.

"This is very promising news in that we may have a new therapeutic method to treat alcohol use disorder," said lead researcher Rong Xu. She's a professor of biomedical informatics at the Case Western's School of Medicine.

Prior data has suggested that something about GLP-1 diabetes/weight-loss drugs can have the effect of curbing excess drinking.

And the Case Western team have already shown that semaglutide (Ozempic/Wegovy) can have other unexpected health benefits.

“In January we showed that semaglutide is associated with a decrease in suicidal thoughts, and in March, we demonstrated that semaglutide is also associated with a reduction in both new diagnoses and recurrence of cannabis use disorder," Xu noted in a university news release.

So what about alcohol intake?

In the new study, Xu's team pored over the electronic health records of nearly 84,000 patients with obesity. 

Compared to people who weren't taking semaglutide, those who took the med saw a decline in the incidence of new-onset alcohol use disorder or recurrent alcohol use disorder, by anywhere from 50% to 56%.

Similar results were found among a set of over 600,000 people who were taking semaglutide for diabetes, the Cleveland group said.

The findings were published May 28 in Nature Communications.

“While the findings are promising and provide preliminary evidence of the potential benefit of semaglutide in alcohol use disorder in real-world populations, further randomized clinical trials are needed to support its use" to help curb drinking, Xu said.

More information

Find out more about cutting down on problem drinking at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

SOURCE: Case Western Reserve University, news release, May 28, 2024

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