Obesity Drug Smaglutude Could Help Individuals With Alcohol Drinking Problem Cut Intake By Half, Study Shows

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A recent study by the University of Gothenburg suggests that semaglutide, a medication commonly prescribed for obesity and type II diabetes, could potentially be useful in treating alcohol dependence. The study published in a biomedicine journal demonstrated that in rats, liraglutide significantly decreased alcohol relapse drinking and overall alcohol consumption by over 50%.

Semaglutide could be effective in treating alcohol dependence

Semaglutide, sold under brand names like Ozempic, is approved for obesity treatment. However, the increased demand for the drug has led to difficulties in its availability. Patients with obesity or diabetes who have taken Semaglutide have reported a decrease in their craving for alcohol.

Currently, alcohol dependence is treated with a combination of psychosocial methods and approved medications, but their effectiveness varies due to the multiple causes of the disease. Consequently, there is a need to develop additional treatment medications.

Semaglutide, a long-acting substance taken once a week, has been found to effectively reduce alcohol consumption in alcohol-dependent rats by acting on the GLP-1 receptor. In the study, rats treated with semaglutide significantly reduced alcohol intake, including during relapses. Relapses are a common issue among individuals with alcohol dependence; after abstinence, they consume more alcohol than before withdrawal.

Treated rats consumed only half the alcohol compared to those not receiving treatment. Additionally, the study showed that semaglutide’s effect on alcohol intake was consistent in both male and female rats.

Alcohol affects the reward system in the brain

In a recent study, researchers explored the reasons behind the reduction in alcohol consumption caused by semaglutide. The findings suggest that the medication’s effect on the brain’s reward system, particularly the nucleus accumbens in the limbic system, could be a key factor.

Study leader Cajsa Aranäs said that when alcohol is consumed, it activates the brain’s reward system and triggers dopamine release, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure. However, in mice treated with the medication called semaglutide, this process was inhibited, potentially leading to a decrease in the rewarding effects of alcohol.

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