Written on October 30, 2023 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
Table of contents
If you are struggling with obesity or being overweight, you are not the only one. You might even be among the many who have been given Ozempic® by a healthcare provider to help you lose weight.[1,2]
Obesity is a common and chronic disease with a prevalence of around 42% in the United States. Obesity can lead to other conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. In the United States, obesity medical-related costs were nearly $173 billion in 2019.
Ozempic® was initially approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017 for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Some patients prescribed Ozempic® for their type 2 diabetes lose weight as a side effect. Presently, Ozempic® is not approved for weight loss, but some healthcare providers recommend it off-label to help with losing weight. The generic of Ozempic® is semaglutide.
Ozempic® is a once-weekly subcutaneous injection. It should be given the same day each week at any time of the day, with or without regard to meals. Ozempic® can be administered to the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm. If a dose is missed, you can administer Ozempic® as soon as possible, within five days after the missed dose. If it is more than five days, you can skip the missed dose and resume your regular once-weekly schedule.
Ozempic® is known to stimulate insulin release; therefore, taking the drug in addition to medications like sulfonylurea or insulin may increase the risk of low blood sugar. Ozempic® can also cause a delay in gastric emptying and potentially impact the absorption of oral medications when taken together. In clinical trials, Ozempic® did not affect the absorption of orally administered medications to any clinically relevant degree. However, you should still exercise caution when oral drugs are administered at the same time as Ozempic®.
Ozempic® has a black box warning, or a serious FDA safety warning, for the risk of thyroid C-cell tumors. Ozempic® should be avoided by individuals with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer or patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2. Patients with severe hypersensitivity reactions to the drug or its ingredients should avoid Ozempic®. Additional warnings and precautions for Ozempic® include pancreatitis, diabetic retinopathy, hypoglycemia, acute kidney injury, acute gallbladder disease, and hypersensitivity reactions. Common side effects reported with Ozempic® are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and constipation.
Currently, the FDA has not required or provided any warnings or safety information for drinking alcohol while taking Ozempic®. If you are taking Ozempic®, you need to discuss your alcohol use with your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider may recommend moderating your alcohol consumption or avoiding alcohol altogether. Your healthcare provider will make recommendations on alcohol use based on your personal circumstances.
Alcohol is an ingredient found in beer, wine, and liquor that is produced by fermenting yeast, sugars, and starches. Drinking too much alcohol can be harmful. Alcohol use disorder with heavy consumption may have detrimental personal and health impacts, leading to liver diseases, dementia, and various cancers.[4,5] Too much alcohol in the long term can also lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, digestive issues, and a weakened immune system.[4,6] The effects of alcohol could also promote weight gain and obesity, though more studies are needed to investigate the association and link between the two.[7,8] Long-term alcohol use has been associated with pancreatitis and potentially kidney injury.[9,10]
If you are trying to lose weight and wondering if Ozempic® is an option, be sure to speak with a healthcare provider. If you are already taking Ozempic® and considering drinking alcohol, remember to discuss it with your healthcare provider first. Through Everlywell, you can meet virtually with a licensed clinician via our comprehensive GLP-1 weight loss program to discuss your questions on weight loss. The program provides access to regular one-on-one virtual visits, at-home lab tests or supplements, and GLP-1 prescriptions if you qualify.
During your first visit, your healthcare provider will review and evaluate your medical history and order any appropriate lab testing that may be needed to determine whether weight loss medication may be for you. Your second visit will include your provider evaluating your test results, discussing your personal health and weight-related goals, and helping you design a personalized care plan.