Don't use weight loss drugs to quit alcohol, expert warns

weight loss medications
An expert has warned against using weight loss medications to quit alcohol. (Getty Images) (CR via Getty Images)

An expert has warned against using weight loss medications to curb alcohol habits after some users claimed that the jabs are helping them quit drinking.

Christy Osborne, sobriety coach and founder of Love Life Sober, says that she worries people could be seeing the medications, such as Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro, as a 'quick fix solution' instead of tackling the underlying problem.

"As with many medications, especially those that are still relatively new to consumers in the market, there is always concern," Osbourne explains.

"Everyone is different and when it comes to active addiction or figuring out your relationship with alcohol, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all type model to help, much like many other addictions and mental health concerns. My worry is people could see Ozempic as a quick fix solution to a problem that is more deep-rooted and that needs exploring and understanding to undo negative thought patterns and behaviours around alcohol."

It comes after users on several Reddit threads claimed that the weight loss drugs were also affecting their alcohol cravings.

Close up of unrecognizable black man pouring red wine into a glass in dining room.
People on Reddit have claimed that weight loss drugs can affect their alcohol cravings. (Getty Images) (skynesher via Getty Images)

"I went from having a serious drinking problem to not drinking at all," one user wrote. "I tried to drink twice on the medicine (out of habit, I honestly didn't even want to but did anyway) and I felt so terrible the next day both times that I just stopped all together."

Another user added: "I’ve been on it for almost a year and have barely had any drinks at all. It doesn’t appeal to me anymore and when I do have a drink in a social setting, it just doesn’t feel good after."

This theory has some scientific backing too – research from 2023 of six case studies determined that GLP-1s (glucagon-like peptide 1s, the class of medications that the weight loss jabs fall under), can be effective in the treatment of alcohol use disorder (AUD).

"This case series is consistent with preclinical data and suggests that GLP-1RAs have strong potential in the treatment of AUD," the study authors concluded, however larger studies are required to determine the link.

Osbourne says that it is still "too early on to understand the impacts of the drug in reducing alcohol cravings'.

Group of happy friends drinking and toasting beer at brewery bar restaurant
Further studies need to be done on the link between alcohol and weight loss medications. (Getty Images) (Witthaya Prasongsin via Getty Images)

However, she explains that the reason why some users could be seeing a reduction in their alcohol cravings is because GLP-1s can slow down the release of dopamine, which can affect cravings.

"My concern is that people could see this as a way to curb drinking without addressing underlying behaviours and that without the drug – would people crash or go back to drinking," Osbourne adds.

"The risks, for me, is that people aren’t understanding their relationships or patterns with alcohol and instead could rely on an injection to help eliminate the alcohol cravings, which prompts questions. Is this a life-long medication? Is this suitable for everyone with an alcohol misuse problem? How do you measure this? The positives are that it could be used as part of a wider care and recovery plan, alongside coaching, therapy, personal development, healthy living, but it needs to be regulated and explored."

GLP-1 medications such as Ozempic have been praised by celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey for their weight loss results. However, the medications can be pricey and come with a host of side effects including nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain, severe constipation, and even thyroid tumours and thyroid cancer.

Always speak to your GP before starting any kind of medication.

If you feel like you may have a dependency on alcohol, you should see your GP or a medical professional as you may experience withdrawal symptoms like being irritable, shaky or tired.

You can also use Drinkaware’s Drinkchat, which is a free online chat service with trained advisors available from 9am to 2pm on weekdays here.

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