March 2, 2024

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Semaglutide: Potential Breakthrough in Addiction Treatment for Alcohol

Semaglutide: Potential Breakthrough in Addiction Treatment for Alcohol



Semaglutide: Potential Breakthrough in Addiction Treatment for Alcohol

The utility of the “miracle weight-loss drug” semaglutide continues to expand, with potential applications in alcohol addiction therapy.

A recent study has found that symptoms of alcohol use disorder (AUD) significantly decreased in patients with semaglutide, a drug commonly used for weight loss and diabetes.

While the study sample was relatively small, larger-scale research is underway, raising the possibility of using drugs like semaglutide in addiction treatment.

Semaglutide, sold under various names such as Ozempic, Mounjaro, and Wegovy, has gained global popularity.

Semaglutide: Potential Breakthrough in Addiction Treatment for Alcohol

Originally developed to control blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes patients, early tests revealed an unexpected positive side effect – weight loss, giving it a completely different market presence. A recent study suggests that semaglutide also provides cardiovascular benefits for overweight non-diabetic patients.

New research indicates another potential benefit of semaglutide. A collaborative effort between the University of Oklahoma (OU) Tulsa and the Oklahoma State University (OSU) Health Sciences Center found that symptoms of alcohol use disorder (AUD) were significantly reduced in patients undergoing semaglutide weight-loss treatment.

Jesse Richards, the lead author of the study, stated, “This research marks a significant step forward in understanding the potential therapeutic applications of semaglutide in the field of addiction medicine.”

Researchers identified six patients undergoing semaglutide weight-loss treatment through a retrospective chart review. These patients had undergone AUD-positive screening tests (AUDIT) before starting semaglutide treatment. AUDIT, a 10-item questionnaire approved by the World Health Organization, is used to screen for alcohol problems. Possible scores range from 0 (no alcohol problems ever) to 40, with scores between 8 and 14 indicating risky or harmful drinking and 15 or higher suggesting the likelihood of AUD.

Based on improvements in AUDIT scores, all six patients showed a significant reduction in AUD symptoms, with an average decrease of 9.5 points after semaglutide treatment.

Preclinical trials on rats and monkeys indicated a correlation between semaglutide and reduced drug and alcohol consumption. Interestingly, many patients taking the drug reported a decrease in alcohol cravings. However, there is currently no randomized clinical trial linking the reduction of AUD symptoms to semaglutide use.

The evidence from the current study has led to a placebo-controlled clinical trial called Semaglutide for Alcohol Reduction Therapy (STAR), currently underway at the OSU Hardesty Clinical Research and Neuroscience Center in Tulsa, with a sister study conducted in Baltimore.

“With the publication of this case series in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, a foundation is laid for future clinical trials, such as the STAR study, which can conclusively tell us whether semaglutide is a safe and effective treatment for alcohol use disorder,” said Kyle Simmons, the communication author of the study.

These findings open the door to using drugs like semaglutide in the treatment of addictive behaviors, as published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Semaglutide: Potential Breakthrough in Addiction Treatment for Alcohol

(source:internet, reference only)


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