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Alcohol and Medications

Is It Safe To Mix Ozempic and Alcohol?

August 30, 2023
16 min read
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August 30, 2023
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Reframe Content Team
August 30, 2023
16 min read

It’s all over social media, and is being praised by celebrities, tech moguls, and TikTok influencers alike — Ozepmic, the “miracle” drug for weight loss. While Ozempic is not actually approved for weight loss, some people are finding that it helps them lose weight, and lose it fast. 

Ozempic was designed to help lower the blood sugar levels in adults with Type 2 diabetes. If you’re taking it, you may be wondering if it’s safe to consume alcohol. The short answer? It depends. 

In this post, we’ll explore what Ozempic is, how it works, and the potential consequences of mixing it with alcohol. We’ll also look at what to avoid and what to do while taking Ozempic. Let’s get started!

What Is Ozempic?

Ozempic is a once-weekly injectable medication used to help control blood sugar levels in adults with Type 2 diabetes. It can also help lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 

Ozempic belongs to a class of medications called GLP-1 agonists. These work by mimicking a gut hormone called GLP-1 to lower blood glucose levels after we’ve eaten a meal. They also block our liver from making glucose and help us feel full for a longer period of time. 

GP-1 is also thought to directly affect the appetite control area of our brain and certain hunger hormones. As a result, Ozempic helps curb our appetite and makes us feel full so we consume fewer calories, which can result in weight loss. This is why it’s gaining so much attention lately. 

The medication is available as a pre-filled pen injector that’s used once weekly. This is another reason for its popularity: Ozempic works in our body longer than other medications that need to be injected once or twice a day. 

Can We Drink Alcohol While Taking Ozempic?

So is it safe to drink alcohol while taking Ozempic? Well, it depends. There’s no direct interaction between alcohol and Ozempic. However, alcohol might indirectly counteract some of Ozempic’s potential benefits for our body and heart; it also might worsen some of Ozempic’s side effects. 

While the occasional drink or two with Ozempic may not be harmful, how much and how often we drink might cause issues. Interestingly, we might not even have the same desire to drink alcohol while taking Ozempic. In fact, many people report that Ozempic makes alcohol less appealing. Why? It all comes down to how Ozempic affects our brain. 

That gut hormone we talked about, GLP-1? It targets several different organs —  including our pancreas, gut, and liver — as well as areas in our brain involved in regulating our metabolism and appetite. 

When we drink alcohol, our brain’s reward system is activated, releasing that “feel good” chemical, dopamine. GLP-1 targets are also found in the reward-related areas of our brain, which may block or reduce this dopamine boost. This might explain why some people taking Ozempic don’t get the same “feel good” feeling they used to get from drinking alcohol. 

Interestingly, animal studies indicate that medications similar to Ozempic may reduce other drug use, such as cocaine, nicotine, and amphetamine. Research is currently underway to determine if Ozempic can be used to treat people with alcohol use disorder.

Alcohol May Worsen Ozempic’s Side Effects

Like most drugs, Ozempic may cause mild or serious side effects. Especially when we first start taking it or have a dosage increase, we may experience digestion-related side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and constipation. 

With these side effects, we probably wouldn’t feel like indulging in alcohol in the first place. But if we do, alcohol will likely exacerbate them. This is because alcohol can irritate our stomach lining as it makes its way through our digestive tract, causing it to become inflamed. 

Alcohol can also slow our digestive system, which may cause nausea, vomiting, and an upset stomach. If we’re already experiencing these symptoms from Ozempic, it’s like a double whammy. While Ozempic’s side effects typically improve over time, it’s best to consult our doctor to discuss whether an occasional drink is ok while taking the drug. 

Alcohol May Increase Risk of Low Blood Sugar

Drinking alcohol with Type 2 diabetes puts us at a greater risk of hypoglycemia — dangerously low blood glucose levels. This is because alcohol interferes with our liver’s ability to balance our blood glucose levels. 

Alcohol is a toxin, so our liver goes into overdrive as soon as we start drinking to process it out of our system. This prevents the liver from doing its other jobs as effectively, including regulating the amount of glucose in our blood. This is why our blood sugar levels can drop while drinking, even when we eat foods that are high in sugar or carbohydrates. This is especially dangerous in people with diabetes who already have trouble regulating their blood sugar levels. 

While the occasional drink may be safe, the more alcohol we consume, the greater our risk of hypoglycemia — especially since our liver can only process one standard drink per hour (one pint of beer, one glass of wine, one cocktail). 

We should consult our healthcare provider to determine how much, if any, alcohol we can safely consume while taking Ozempic. If we do choose to drink, it’s important to keep tabs on our blood glucose levels before, during, and after drinking to help identify and manage hypoglycemia quickly. Left untreated, hypoglycemia can be life-threatening and result in loss of consciousness or seizures. 

Alcohol and Ozempic Put Us at Risk of Pancreatitis and Kidney Damage

While rare, some people taking Ozempic have reported developing pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas. Long-term heavy alcohol use has also been linked to pancreatitis, so combining the two could be dangerous. 

Similarly, there may be a risk of kidney damage in some people who take Ozempic. However, the risk is higher if we become dehydrated from fluid loss due to side effects such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Chronic or heavy consumption of alcohol can damage our kidneys and increase our risk of kidney disease. There’s also an increased risk of becoming dehydrated while drinking, since alcohol is a diuretic and can make us urinate more frequently. 

While a glass of wine here or there might not be cause for worry, long-term or heavy alcohol use while taking Ozempic could put us at a higher risk for developing these two serious conditions. 

Alcohol Can Counteract Some of Ozempic’s Benefits

Part of the challenge of living with Type 2 diabetes is controlling our weight. While Ozempic isn’t approved for weight loss, many people taking it for Type 2 diabetes lose weight as a side effect. Alcohol has the opposite effect: it can cause weight gain by adding “empty” calories and slowing down our metabolism. So drinking alcohol while taking Ozempic may make it harder to lose weight. 

Furthermore, Ozempic can help lower the risk of a heart attack and stroke in people with Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. However, alcohol can negatively affect our heart health, increasing our risk of high blood pressure, heart failure, and stroke — especially if we consume alcohol regularly. In other words, we may not get the full heart-related benefits from Ozempic if we’re drinking alcohol daily. 

What Should We Avoid While Taking Ozempic?

In addition to being mindful of our alcohol intake, certain foods may worsen Ozempic’s side effects, while others may counteract Ozempic’s ability to lower our blood glucose. We should limit our intake of spicy foods, greasy, fried foods, sugary foods and drinks, high-sodium foods, and refined carbohydrates while taking Ozempic. These can upset our stomach, contribute to weight gain, or both.

It’s also good to be aware that taking Ozempic with other diabetes medications (including insulin, sulfonylureas, and meglitinides) can increase the risk of hypoglycemia. It’s important to review every medication or drug you are taking with your healthcare provider so they can flag any potential harmful interactions. In general, alcohol and diabetes medications can be a dangerous combination.

What Should We Do While Taking Ozempic?

While taking Ozempic, it’s important to make certain lifestyle changes to help us get the most benefits and keep us healthy. Here are two of the most important: 

  1. Eat a balanced diet: Eating a balanced diet can help us manage our Type 2 diabetes by keeping our blood sugar levels in check and losing any excess weight. Enjoy these good foods:
    • Protein: Fish, poultry, beans and legumes, eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, lean cuts of beef and pork, and tofu
    • Non-starchy vegetables: Kale, spinach, arugula, onions, peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, asparagus, and tomatoes
    • Whole fruit: Apples, oranges, pears, grapes, pineapple, watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries
    • Whole grains: Quinoa, whole grain pasta, oats, whole wheat bread, whole grain rice, and barley
    • Beans and legumes: Black beans, chickpeas, navy beans, dried peas, edamame, pinto beans, and lentils
    • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, and hazelnuts
  2. Exercise regularly: Physical activity helps us achieve or maintain a healthy weight, maintain good heart health, and manage blood sugar levels. Any type of exercise is beneficial, whether it’s walking, swimming, biking, or running. Try an exercise program or group class, such as pilates, pure barre, rowing, or HIIT. We should aim to get 150 minutes a week of physical activity; this works out to 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week, which can be broken down into smaller segments throughout each day.
  3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: Ozempic’s potential side effects can cause us to become dehydrated more easily. We should aim to consume at least six 8-ounce glasses of water a day — more if Ozempic is causing vomiting or diarrhea. It can help to add electrolytes (such as Pedialyte, Propel, or Emergen-C) to our water to replenish important minerals our body needs. Remember to drink plenty of water before, during, and after a workout.

    The Bottom Line

    Ozempic helps control blood sugar levels in adults with Type 2 diabetes, and it can lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. While an occasional alcoholic beverage while taking Ozempic may not be harmful, heavy or long-term alcohol consumption may exacerbate side effects and increase the risk of hyperglycemia, pancreatitis, and kidney damage. Alcohol can also counteract some of Ozempic’s benefits by causing weight gain and increasing our risk of a heart attack and stroke. It’s best to consult our healthcare provider to determine how much alcohol — if any — is safe for us to consume while taking the drug. 

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    Summary FAQs

    1. What is Ozempic?

    Ozempic is a once-weekly injectable medication used to help control blood sugar levels in adults with Type 2 diabetes. It can also help lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 

    2. Can we drink alcohol while taking Ozempic?

    The occasional drink may not be harmful. However, heavy or long-term consumption of alcohol while taking Ozempic may exacerbate side effects and increase our risk of serious conditions, such as hyperglycemia, pancreatitis, and kidney damage.

    3. What should we avoid while taking Ozempic?

    In addition to being mindful of our alcohol intake, we should also avoid spicy foods, greasy or fried foods, sugary foods and drinks, high-sodium foods, and refined carbohydrates. These can exacerbate digestive issues caused by the drug, contribute to weight gain, or both.

    4. What should we do while taking Ozempic?

    While taking Ozempic, it’s important to eat a balanced diet high in protein, non-starchy vegetables, whole fruit, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds. It’s also important to incorporate exercise and physical activity into our daily routine. 

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