"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Small study raises hopes for treating alcoholism with semaglutide

November 28, 2023 – A small case study of people that took the favored weight-loss drug semaglutide showed that they experienced a big reduction in alcohol addiction symptoms.

Semaglutide is the energetic ingredient in the burden loss medication Wegovy and the diabetes medication Ozempic.

The Results were published on Monday in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry And arise from what researchers call a “case series study,” which examines the experiences of a small group of individuals intimately but doesn't have the statistical power to attract conclusions from larger studies.

Alcohol use disorder often involves problems controlling alcohol consumption, including constant preoccupation with alcohol or continued use of the drug even when it's causing problems. People with alcohol addiction often have to drink increasingly more alcohol to get the identical effect from the drug, and should experience withdrawal symptoms after they reduce their alcohol consumption or stop drinking altogether.

“This research represents a significant advance in our understanding of the potential therapeutic uses of semaglutide in the field of addiction medicine,” said lead writer Jesse Richards, DO, director of obesity medicine and assistant professor of drugs on the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa School of Community Medicine, in a opinion.

This case series included six individuals who took semaglutide for weight reduction, all of whom experienced significant reductions of their alcohol dependence symptoms over various periods of time starting from 1 to 9 months. All subjects were patients at a medical weight reduction and bariatric surgery clinic, and two of them were taking semaglutide to drop extra pounds before scheduled bariatric surgery. Another person within the study had recently undergone bariatric surgery. One person reported that they stopped binge drinking completely while taking semaglutide. Five of the six people within the study were women.

The researchers from Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma said it's the primary published work showing evidence of using semaglutide to scale back symptoms of alcohol use disorder in humans. Semaglutide works in ways in which can affect the reward center of the brain. Therefore, its use in alcohol use disorders has generated considerable interest and two larger studies are underway. Studies have already shown that rodents and monkeys reduced their alcohol consumption when taking semaglutide, the authors noted.

Semaglutide's advantages beyond treating diabetes and weight reduction proceed to emerge, including a recent study that showed it might reduce the chance of heart attack and stroke in some people. But the drug has also drawn attention for its uncomfortable side effects, particularly gastrointestinal problems, which cause many individuals to stop treatment and develop some recent health problems.

There are only three FDA-approved medications for alcohol use disorder, and fewer than 2% of individuals with the disorder take these medications, the authors noted. Other treatment options for alcohol addiction range from inpatient cleansing treatment with medical treatment for withdrawal symptoms to group or individual therapy sessions during which people learn to alter their behavior and set goals, the study found Mayo Clinic.

According to this, greater than 28 million adults within the USA suffered from an alcohol use disorder in 2021 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. That corresponds to about one in ten adults.

Because of the case study nature of their research, the authors wrote that it was unclear whether reductions in alcohol use disorder symptoms resulting from semaglutide could be sustained long-term. Previous studies have shown that folks who drop extra pounds while taking semaglutide often regain much of their weight after they stop taking the drug. The authors wrote that folks searching for treatment for alcohol addiction should use existing treatments until further research on semaglutide is obtainable.