Can GLP-1s like Ozempic and Wegovy Curb Alcohol Use? What You Need to Know

Ozempic and Wegovy, medications primarily used for managing type 2 diabetes, have garnered significant attention for their miraculous qualities as weight loss drugs. Recently, attention has been growing on whether these drugs, which are part of a larger class known as GLP-1 agonists, may also help treat other conditions such as alcohol use disorder (“AUD”). AUD impacts over 30 million Americans a year and is the second leading cause of preventable death in the US. While there are effective FDA-approved medications for AUD (such as naltrexone and disulfiram), they are not commonly used and many people are not aware of their efficacy (less than 2% of people with AUD access medication). This is part of what makes cutting back or quitting alcohol so difficult, and also what makes the possible introduction of a new helpful drug so exciting.

PLEASE NOTE: As of July 2024, Ozempic is NOT approved for the treatment of alcohol use disorder. This article merely seeks to explore the science behind Ozempic, its potential effects on alcohol consumption, and what current research says about the intriguing possibility of one day utilizing GLP-1s to treat AUD.  Let’s dive in.

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic (semaglutide) is a GLP-1 receptor agonist, a class of drugs that mimic the action of the glucagon-like peptide-1 hormone. This hormone plays a role in regulating blood sugar levels, insulin secretion, and appetite. By activating GLP-1 receptors, Ozempic helps lower blood sugar levels and can contribute to weight loss.

How Does Ozempic Work?

Ozempic works by:

  • Stimulating insulin release from the pancreas when blood sugar levels are high.
  • Reducing the amount of sugar released by the liver.
  • Slowing down the emptying of the stomach, which helps control appetite and reduce food intake.

These effects make Ozempic an effective treatment for type 2 diabetes and a useful aid in weight management. But how does this relate to alcohol use?

Current Research on Ozempic and Alcohol Use

Research into Ozempic’s potential to curb alcohol use is still in its early stages. However, there are several reasons why scientists believe that many of the same mechanisms that are making GLP-1s an effective medication for weight loss, may also make it effective in treating other conditions such as addiction: 

  1. Craving Reduction: GLP-1 receptor agonists like Ozempic may influence the brain’s reward system, which is involved in craving and addiction behaviors. By modulating this system, Ozempic could potentially reduce cravings for alcohol.
  2. Appetite Suppression: Since Ozempic helps control appetite and reduce food intake, it might also help control the urge to consume alcohol, which can be driven by similar mechanisms.
  3. Behavioral Regulation: By improving metabolic health and stabilizing blood sugar levels, Ozempic might indirectly help individuals regulate their behaviors, including alcohol consumption.

Several studies have begun to explore these possibilities:

  • A 2023 study published in the National Library of Medicine found that GLP-1s reduced binge-like alcohol drinking in mice and rats, suggesting its potential as a novel treatment for alcohol use disorder.
  • Clinical trials are ongoing to determine if these effects translate to humans and whether Ozempic can be a viable treatment for alcohol use disorder.

Potential Benefits of Using Ozempic to Curb Alcohol Use

If proven effective, Ozempic may be used to significantly decrease symptoms faced by those struggling with alcohol use disorder. Some anticipated changes include:

  • Reduction in Alcohol Cravings: By affecting the brain’s reward pathways, Ozempic could help reduce the desire to drink. 
  • Improved Metabolic Health: Better blood sugar control and weight management can contribute to overall health improvements.
  • Lower Risk of Alcohol-Related Health Issues: Reducing alcohol consumption can decrease the risk of liver disease, cardiovascular problems, and other alcohol-related health issues.

Risks and Side Effects

Ozempic, and other GLP-1s, have potential risks and side effects. Common side effects reported in their use for diabetes or weight loss include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation

In recent weeks we have seen a rise in digestive issues resulting from Ozempic or other GLP-1 consumption. This brings some significant cause for concern, especially with regard to treatment for alcohol use disorder, because gastritis and gut issues like diarrhea and constipation are already well-observed symptoms in recovery from alcohol use disorder. A close eye will need to be kept on the impact of GLP-1s on the gut and overall digestive health. 

In rare cases, Ozempic can cause more severe side effects, such as pancreatitis, kidney problems, and allergic reactions. It’s crucial to consult a healthcare provider before starting Ozempic, especially for off-label uses like curbing alcohol use.

Consulting Your Healthcare Provider

Ozempic is not approved for alcohol use disorder treatment. It’s essential to talk to your healthcare provider about the right treatment as they can help you understand the potential benefits and risks of medication for AUD. While Ozempic shows promise, there are other treatments currently available for alcohol use disorder, including:

  • Medications: Naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram are FDA-approved medications for alcohol dependence.
  • Therapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational enhancement therapy (MET) are effective behavioral interventions.
  • Support Groups: Programs like the Monument community. 


What is Ozempic?

Ozempic is a medication used to treat type 2 diabetes by mimicking the GLP-1 hormone, helping to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce appetite.

How does Ozempic work for weight loss and diabetes?

Ozempic stimulates insulin release, reduces sugar production by the liver, and slows stomach emptying, aiding in blood sugar control and weight management.

Can Ozempic help reduce alcohol cravings?

Early research suggests that Ozempic may influence the brain’s reward system, potentially reducing alcohol cravings, but more studies are needed to confirm this effect and it is not approved as a treatment for alcohol use disorder at this time. 

What are the side effects of using Ozempic?

Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Serious side effects can include pancreatitis and kidney problems. 

Is it safe to use Ozempic for alcohol use disorder?

The safety of Ozempic for alcohol use disorder is still under investigation. It’s important to note that it is currently not approved for the treatment of alcohol use disorder by the FDA. 

Are there alternatives to Ozempic for managing alcohol dependence?

Yes, FDA-approved medications, such as naltrexone or disulfiram are available. Others many seek behavioral therapies, such as therapy or support groups as effective alternatives for managing alcohol dependence. 


While Ozempic is primarily used for diabetes and weight management, emerging research suggests it may have the potential to help curb alcohol use. While it is not currently approved for the treatment of alcohol use disorder, at Monument we are closely monitoring the development of this exciting new potential medication. As with any medication, it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider to understand the benefits and risks fully. If you’re struggling with alcohol dependence, talk to a doctor or therapist – it’s likely covered by your insurance. 


  1. “30 Days Without Alcohol: Timeline & What to Expect,” Accessed Jun. 29, 2024. 
  2. “What Is Ozempic and Why Is It Getting So Much Attention?,” Accessed Jul. 1, 2024. 
  3. “What Happens to Your Body on Ozempic?” Accessed Jul. 1, 2024.  
  4. “Ozempic seems to curb cravings for alcohol. Here’s what scientists think is going on,” Accessed Jul. 1, 2024. 
  5. “The glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogue semaglutide reduces alcohol drinking and modulates central GABA neurotransmission,” Accessed Jul. 1, 2024. 
  6. “Significant Decrease in Alcohol Use Disorder Symptoms Secondary to Semaglutide Therapy for Weight Loss: A Case Series,” Accessed Jul. 1, 2024
  7. “Researchers link popular weight loss drugs to serious digestive problems for ‘hundreds of thousands’ worldwide,” Accessed Jul. 1, 2024.

About the Author

Avatar photoMonument is an online platform dedicated to helping individuals cut back or quit drinking alcohol through evidence-based treatment and compassionate care. We connect our members to an anonymous community, therapist-moderated support groups, and a comprehensive collection of resources to provide the support and information they deserve. For those seeking medical treatment, Monument introduces members to licensed physicians and specialized therapists who work together to develop personalized treatment plans tailored to each individual's unique goals. Our services are not only research-based but also affordable and accessible, ensuring that a healthy relationship with alcohol is attainable and celebrated by all. Monument is proud to be contracted with major health care payers such as UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, and Cigna, making our services in-network and available to a wide range of individuals seeking support. Monument's clinical operations are overseen by a well-experienced medical team comprising leading experts in the field of addiction medicine. Our medical team is led by Dr. Abe Malkin, MD MBA who's team has an extensive background in treating alcohol use disorder (AUD) and are dedicated to providing the highest quality care. At Monument, we understand that each individual's journey with alcohol is unique. That's why we offer a holistic approach to treatment that includes. FDA-Approved Medications: Prescribed by our licensed physicians, these medications help reduce cravings and support sobriety or moderation. We only prescribe effective, non-controlled medications. Specialized Therapy: Our therapists are experts in addiction treatment and provide personalized counseling to address the underlying causes of unhealthy drinking behaviors. Support Groups: Led by professional therapists, our support groups offer a safe space for members to share their experiences, gain insights, and build a supportive community. Resources and Tools: We provide access to a wealth of resources, including articles, webinars, and self-assessment tools to help members stay informed and motivated on their journey.