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Corona Jamel, who lost 60 pounds after taking the weight loss drug Wegovy for 15 months, says she needed to prevent herself from developing Type 2 diabetes.

She claims that the therapy started when she took the necessary steps to address the issues that were important to her, regardless of the fact that she had to make certain dietary changes. Despite her desire to lose weight, her doctor advised her to focus on maintaining a healthy diet and staying active, especially since she was at risk of developing pre-diabetes due to the Corona virus.

However, an unforeseen consequence occurred after Corona began taking the medication: She no longer consumes alcoholic beverages.

The accountant from Chicago is used to enjoying drinking, whether it’s a few beers during a night out or a glass of wine after work. However, she now finds alcohol hard to pass, noting that she doesn’t enjoy it as much as she used to.

“I dislike the way it affects my emotions,” Corona, 37, informs TODAY.Com.

I can’t tolerate beer at all, so I haven’t had any beer in months. … It’s just too sweet. I don’t remember the last time I had wine.

Her husband’s birthday trip to a brewery became a complete disaster when she was already on the maximum dose of medication — or nine months into her Wegovy treatment since August 2022 — she has developed a specific dislike for beer.

She became increasingly intoxicated, causing her stomach to churn and making her feel upset. She says that she only gets physically sick from alcohol occasionally, and during a four-hour period, she had consumed three Corona beers.

“I never want to feel like that again, Corona says. I just had a really horrible reaction to it.”

In social gatherings, if at all, she only indulges in a lime and vodka water, requesting for additional ice to dilute it. Presently, she consumes an alcoholic beverage once every alternate month.

Absence of desire for alcohol

Since starting the medication, individuals on virtual discussion forums are expressing that “I previously enjoyed wine, and now I find the scent unbearable” or remarking that alcohol now “disgusts me.” Similar encounters have been shared by other patients who are taking Wegovy or Ozempic, echoing Corona’s documented experience on TikTok.

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Physicians who prescribe the medications also observe it.

Dr. Louis Aronne, a physician specializing in obesity medicine and serving as the director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian, explains to TODAY.Com, “The precise reasons for this phenomenon remain somewhat elusive.” Conversely, in certain individuals, there is a noticeable decrease in the desire to consume alcohol, which is observed in a subset of patients. Additionally, it is worth noting that Dr. Aronne also holds a position as a scientific advisor for Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical company responsible for manufacturing both Ozempic and Wegovy.

NBC’s senior medical correspondent Dr. John Torres stated on TODAY that the phenomenon is somewhat understandable, to a certain degree.

Patients taking medication may experience a reduction in appetite when they consume food, and this effect is observed earlier. Semaglutide, found in Wegovy and Ozempic, is a synthetic version of a hormone known as GLP-1, which the body produces when a person eats.

When the medication hits the GLP-1 receptors in the brain, it may indicate the same part of the brain that is affected, which reduces their interest in alcohol, as some also say it reduces their obsession with food, according to patients’ reports.

TODAY.Com stated that Nordisk Novo did not list the potential side effect as an adverse event commonly reported in the prescribing information for Wegovy or Ozempic. It’s also not listed as a commonly reported adverse event for alcohol aversion in the prescribing information for Ozempic. Additionally, it’s not listed as a commonly reported adverse event during the clinical development programs.

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Novo Nordisk, the company in question, has not conducted studies specifically evaluating the safety and effectiveness of Ozempic or Wegovy in individuals who consume alcohol.

Some anecdotal reports from social media suggest that semaglutide, a drug used to reduce cravings for addictive behaviors such as gambling and vaping, may also have effects on users.

Another individual wrote online about their use of medications: “I don’t even think about buying lottery tickets and scratch-offs anymore, which I used to do a lot.” In a segment reported on May 24th by TODAY, I used vaping as a quick way to quit smoking: “a cold turkey approach.”

‘Encouraging’ for alcohol use disorder, but additional data required

Christian Hendershot, an associate at the Center for Alcohol Studies at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, is conducting a clinical trial to investigate if Wegovy or Ozempic can reduce cravings.

Thus far, it is solely anecdotal evidence, but based on the remarks made by patients, it seems that the craving for alcohol is diminished when using the medication.

Hendershot has observed online posts from individuals who have reported experiencing more intense hangover symptoms or feeling nauseous, as well as a decreased interest in drinking due to the unpleasant taste and odor of alcohol.

There is no research yet to confirm what patients say, but animal studies show that semaglutide, a GLP-1 receptor agonist, can reduce alcohol intake in rodents.

TODAY.Com informs Hendershot, “At present, we possess clinical data that far surpasses anecdotal data in terms of its extent due to the highly distinctive nature of the situation.”

“It is definitely a compelling incentive to commence studying it, thus, when you come across occurrences like this, there is a substantial demand for novel treatments for alcohol use disorder, and the encouraging aspect is that there is an indication present, particularly from the anecdotal accounts.”

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In the previous year, approximately 30 million teenagers and adults in the United States experienced alcohol use disorder, which refers to the inability to cease or regulate alcohol consumption, as stated by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The theories about why semaglutide might reduce a person’s appetite include the idea that it could diminish or consume various activities in Hendershot’s pleasure, similar to how they might like to reduce or consume other things but food.

In a segment on May 24th, Ph.D. Neuroscientist Gregg Stanwood said that “semaglutide appears to blunt the effects of dopamine in the brain, aka the feel-good chemical, which reduces cravings in patients who don’t get the same high from these activities as they previously did.”

Hendershot says he is beginning to receive reports that doctors are exercising caution in prescribing Ozempic or Wegovy off-label for individuals with alcohol concerns, due to the lack of sufficient evidence regarding the safety and effectiveness of semaglutide for alcohol use disorder.

The drug may cease to be effective in curbing alcohol cravings for individuals who discontinue its usage, thus raising the inquiry of its efficacy in such situations. Some individuals have reported anecdotally that alcohol appears to remain in their system for extended periods, which Hendershot acknowledges. It is probable that this medication influences blood alcohol levels by reducing the rate at which the stomach empties.

According to Hendershot, “there has definitely been a lot of hype generated now and a lot of behaviors that are outside the original indication of the drug.”

“We need to exercise caution. We must gather additional information.”

This article was initially published on TODAY.Com.

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