If you’ve recently been prescribed or have started taking Ozempic and you drink alcohol, you may be wondering if combining these is healthy, advisable, or even safe.
This article will explore what happens when you drink alcohol while taking Ozempic, the potential side effects, and how you can safely drink alcohol while taking Ozempic.
What happens when you drink alcohol while taking Ozempic?
Drinking alcohol while taking any prescription medication can be confusing, so always talk with your doctor if you’re unsure of how medications may react to something you’re about to drink.
If you decide to drink alcohol while taking Ozempic, several things may occur that it is important to take note of:
- If you take Ozempic and you’re on insulin, you are more prone to low blood sugars
- Alcohol is known to affect blood sugar levels
- Alcohol may impair your judgment
- Alcohol, over time, increases the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease, and heart and kidney disease, which are also complications of diabetes
- Alcohol can exacerbate Ozempic side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and appetite suppression
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.
If you are or suspect you are struggling with alcohol addiction, contact your doctor for treatment options right away or call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline, open 24 hours a day.
Ozempic and alcohol’s effect on blood sugar levels
It’s important to note that Ozempic and alcohol are both powerful substances that can cause adverse side effects in people living with diabetes.
One of those side effects is low blood sugar. Alcohol is known to cause low blood sugar levels, sometimes dangerously so, in people who take insulin.
Ozempic, while not causing acute low blood sugar levels, lowers blood sugars over time.
Combining alcohol and Ozempic (not to mention if you’re also on insulin that lower blood sugar levels) will cause blood sugars to fall.
It’s important to be mindful of low blood sugar symptoms, which can be more difficult to detect if you’re drinking. These include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Shallow breathing
- If severe, unconsciousness
If left untreated, severely low blood sugar can turn into a diabetic coma, which is life-threatening and requires emergency medical assistance.
Should you drink alcohol while taking Ozempic?
If you don’t currently drink alcohol, there is no reason to start. There is no “recommended” amount of alcohol that someone should drink.
However, there is no direct drug interaction between consuming alcohol and using Ozempic. Many people who take Ozempic do enjoy alcohol.
If you’re a moderate drinker and would like to enjoy a drink occasionally, the fact that you use Ozempic will not be harmful to you.
It is important to only drink in moderation and to be wary of low blood sugars.
How to drink safely when you have diabetes
There are some additional guidelines for drinking alcohol if you have diabetes, including:
- Never drink alcohol while your blood sugar is low
- Do not drink heavy alcohol when you have a lot of insulin on board (IOB)
- Alternate drinking alcoholic beverages with water to stay hydrated
- Stay with people who know you have diabetes
- Do not drink alcohol on an empty stomach
- Always have low-blood sugar snacks with you (glucose tabs or juice)
- Test your blood sugar before, during, and after drinking, especially before you go to sleep
- If you’re drinking in the evening, have a snack before you go to bed (something with fat and protein will stabilize your blood sugar overnight)
- Wear a continuous glucose monitor (CGM)
- Wear a medical ID bracelet in case of an emergency
- Always let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back
Frequently asked questions
It is never advised to binge drink, especially while taking diabetes medications that may cause low blood sugar like Ozempic.
However, when in moderation (1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men), drinking alcohol is okay for most people who take Ozempic. Talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns.
Unlike insulin, Ozempic does not cause acute low blood sugar levels, and it does not react to food or beverages (including alcohol) the way insulin does. What you eat or drink before or after taking Ozempic will not change its effectiveness.
However, never drink alcohol on an empty stomach or during a low blood sugar.
Read more: Foods to Avoid While Taking Ozempic
The answer to this question is still uncertain. However, studies have shown that rats who are given glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonists, like Ozempic, exhibit less desire for alcohol than rats not given the medication. Similar findings have been discovered in mice and GLP-1 agonists for opioids, nicotine, and cocaine as well.
This has yet to be studied fully in humans, but the link between Ozempic and treating addiction disorders may be a promising finding in the coming months and years.
In one clinical trial, participants diagnosed with obesity who received GLP-1 agonist treatment and behavioral cognitive therapy (CBT) drank substantially less alcohol than those who only took the placebo along with therapy.
The researchers also took scans of the participants’ brains when they looked at pictures of alcoholic drinks and found that in people who were taking the GLP-1 agonists, the areas of their brains involved in addition lit up to a much lesser extent than those who were not on the medication.
Anecdotally, physicians are reporting that their patients are losing their taste for alcohol almost completely once starting Ozempic. If this is your experience, it is not out of the norm.
Detecting your low blood sugars properly while drinking alcohol is a problem for many people with diabetes because low blood sugar and feeling tipsy or drunk can be very similar sensations.
Ozempic can complicate things further, because feeling nauseous, dizzy, weak, and vomiting are side effects of Ozempic, but may also be present if you’re experiencing low blood sugar, or if you’ve just drank too much.
This is why it’s crucial to never drink too much, to monitor your blood sugars the entire time you’re drinking, and to always carry fast-acting low snacks with you if you’re out drinking, such as glucose tablets or juice.
If you’ve recently started Ozempic, your doctor may ask that you refrain from drinking until your body gets used to the medication and until your new insulin levels stabilize (if you’re on insulin), which can take several weeks to a month.
However, after you’ve been taking Ozempic for some time, drinking alcohol will not have a direct drug interaction with this commonly-prescribed diabetes medication.
The short-term effects of drinking alcohol and taking Ozempic include the increased likelihood of low blood sugar levels, so be wary of that.
The longer-term effects of drinking alcohol include kidney and liver failure, and increased risk of stroke and heart disease, which are also complications of diabetes.
Talk with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about taking Ozempic and drinking alcohol and seek help if you’re struggling with alcohol addiction.
Read more: Can Ozempic Help You Lose Weight?
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