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Last updated: Jul 14, 2022
5 min read

Ozempic and alcohol: is it safe to mix the two?

 

Disclaimer

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

When taking any prescription medication, it’s a good idea to look into whether it’s safe to consume alcohol. If you’ve been prescribed Ozempic to manage your type 2 diabetes or help with weight loss, read on. We explore the latest research on Ozempic and alcohol use, and how the two might interact.

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What is Ozempic?

Ozempic is a type of drug called a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist manufactured by Novo Nordisk that helps people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels. It’s a prescription injectable medication that you self-inject weekly, with or without meals (DailyMed, 2022). 

What conditions does Ozempic treat?

Ozempic is primarily used to treat type 2 diabetes. When used in combination with lifestyle changes like diet and exercise, or with other diabetes medications such as metformin or insulin, Ozempic helps people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels (CADTH, 2019; Chamberlin, 2019). Ozempic also lowers the risk of stroke, heart attack, or death in people with type 2 diabetes and heart disease (DailyMed, 2022).

Ozempic may also be prescribed off-label to adults with obesity to help them with weight loss because it may reduce your appetite. When combined with diet and exercise, this effect can help people with excess weight or obesity to lose weight faster (O’Neil, 2018; Wilding, 2021). 

Can you drink alcohol and take Ozempic?

There’s no specific reason to believe that Ozempic dangerously interacts with alcohol. However, whether you’re taking Ozempic for type 2 diabetes or weight loss, there may be reasons to avoid alcohol. Ask your healthcare provider about drinking alcohol if you take Ozempic, as they understand your personal medical history and can best answer this question. 

Type 2 diabetes

If you have type 2 diabetes and are taking Ozempic to control your blood sugar levels, you may want to exercise more caution when it comes to alcohol. Alcohol can affect your blood glucose levels, causing them to drop too low (hypoglycemia) (Asif, 2014; Kim, 2012). 

If your diabetes is well controlled, it’s generally considered okay to drink moderately. That means fewer than two drinks per day (Asif, 2014). However, some studies suggest that men may be at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, even with moderate alcohol consumption, so talk to your healthcare provider (Knott, 2015). 

On the other hand, if your diabetes is not well controlled, or if you have other medical conditions—such as high blood pressure, liver problems, or high triglycerides—it may be safest to avoid alcohol entirely. You should also avoid alcohol if you are pregnant or breastfeeding (Asif, 2014).

Regardless of whether or not your diabetes is well controlled, people with type 2 diabetes should avoid drinking alcohol on an empty stomach. Drinking on an empty stomach increases the risk of hypoglycemia. Monitor your blood sugar levels when consuming alcohol and watch for symptoms of low blood sugar (Asif, 2014). 

Weight loss

If you are taking Ozempic solely for weight loss, you may still want to limit your alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol use has been linked with overeating and may be a risk factor for obesity and weight gain (Traversy, 2015). 

In particular, people who are more impulsive may be more likely to overeat during or after drinking alcohol (Kase, 2016). Chronic heavy drinking may increases your risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus and pancreatitis (Kim, 2012; Traversy, 2015).

What should you avoid when taking Ozempic?

You don’t have to avoid any foods when taking Ozempic, so you can continue with your normal meal plan as recommended by your health provider (DailyMed, 2022). 

Be aware of drug interactions

Although there aren’t any foods you need to avoid while taking this drug, GLP-1 receptor agonists like Ozempic can affect how quickly things move from your stomach into your intestines. This may affect how quickly your body absorbs oral medications. There are no clinically relevant drug interactions with Ozempic at this time, but to be safe, talk to your healthcare provider about other medications you are taking, and follow their medical advice. (DailyMed, 2022). 

If you are taking Ozempic with other diabetes medications, like insulin, you are at higher risk of developing low blood sugar and your medication doses may need adjustments (Chamberlin, 2019).

Talk to your provider about smoking

Your healthcare professional may advise you to avoid smoking if you have type 2 diabetes (Asif, 2014). Smoking cigarettes can cause high blood sugar levels and worsen insulin resistance, which can interfere with your glycemic control. If you are in the process of quitting smoking, it can take some time for your body and blood sugar levels to adjust to the change (Campagna, 2019). Because Ozempic can lower blood sugar levels, ask your healthcare provider about what they recommend for you.

Other warnings

Finally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a “black box” warning for Ozempic. This is the most serious advisory they issue for a medication.  While it is not known if it has the same effect in humans, animal studies have found that Ozempic increases the risk of thyroid tumors in mice. People with a personal or family history of thyroid cancer, or who have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2, should not use Ozempic (DailyMed, 2022).

References

  1. Asif, M. (2014). The prevention and control the type-2 diabetes by changing lifestyle and dietary pattern. Journal of Education and Health Promotion, 3, 1. doi:10.4103/2277-9531.127541. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24741641/
  2. Campagna, D., Alamo, A., Di Pino, A., et al. (2019). Smoking and diabetes: dangerous liaisons and confusing relationships. Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome, 11, 85. doi:10.1186/s13098-019-0482-2. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31666811/
  3. Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH). (2019). Clinical review report: semaglutide (Ozempic): (Novo Nordisk Canada Inc.). Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31305971/ 
  4. Chamberlin, S. & Dabbs, W. (2019). Semaglutide (Ozempic) for type 2 diabetes mellitus. American Family Physician, 100(2), 116–117. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31305048/
  5. DailyMed. (2022). OZEMPIC-semaglutide injection, solution. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=adec4fd2-6858-4c99-91d4-531f5f2a2d79 
  6. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2020). Drug trial snapshot: Ozempic. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-approvals-and-databases/drug-trial-snapshot-ozempic
  7. Kase, C. A., Piers, A. D., Schaumberg, K., et al. (2016). The relationship of alcohol use to weight loss in the context of behavioral weight loss treatment. Appetite, 99, 105–111. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2016.01.014. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26792773/
  8. Kim, S. J. & Kim, D. J. (2012). Alcoholism and diabetes mellitus. Diabetes & Metabolism Journal, 36(2), 108–115. doi:10.4093/dmj.2012.36.2.108. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22540046/ 
  9. Knott, C., Bell, S., & Britton, A. (2015). Alcohol consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of more than 1.9 million individuals from 38 observational studies. Diabetes Care, 38(9), 1804–1812. doi:10.2337/dc15-0710. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26294775/
  10. Maideen, N. M. P. (2019). Pharmacologically relevant drug interactions of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists. Journal of Analytical & Pharmaceutical Research, 8(2), 51‒53. doi:10.15406/japlr.2019.08.00311. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333746529_Pharmacologically_relevant_drug_interactions_of_Glucagon-like_peptide-1_receptor_agonists 
  11. O’Neil, P. M., Birkenfeld, A. L., McGowan, B., et al. (2018). Efficacy and safety of semaglutide compared with liraglutide and placebo for weight loss in patients with obesity: a randomised, double-blind, placebo and active controlled, dose-ranging, phase 2 trial. Lancet (London, England), 392(10148), 637–649. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31773-2. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30122305/
  12. Traversy, G. & Chaput, J. P. (2015). Alcohol consumption and obesity: An update. Current Obesity Reports, 4(1), 122–130. doi:10.1007/s13679-014-0129-4. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25741455/ 
  13. Wilding, J., Batterham, R. L., Calanna, S., et al. (2021). Once-weekly semaglutide in adults with overweight or obesity. The New England Journal of Medicine, 384(11), 989–1002. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa2032183. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33567185/