Liraglutide, a medication used to treat type 2 diabetes, has the potential to treat alcohol addictio, according to new research.
The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Swede, found that GLP-1 agonists like liraglutide suppressed the euphoria triggered by alcohol consumptio, thereby dampening the desire to drink.
“The physiological role of GLP-1 extends beyond glucose homeostasis and food intake regulation and includes modulation of development of alcohol dependence,” said Elisabet Jerlhag, one of the researchers.
“We suggest that medications that resemble GLP-1 could be used to treat alcohol dependence in humans.”
When we drink alcohol, the hormone dopamine is released in the brain’s reward centre, which triggers a sense of euphoria. But when a group of rats was given GLP-1 agonists, their brains were unable to increase dopamine levels in the brain’s reward centre. Therefore, they were no longer being “rewarded” for drinking alcohol.
Jerlhag noted: “The GLP-1-like substance reduced the alcohol consumption by 30-40 per cent in rats that drank large quantities of alcohol for several months.”
The GLP-1 agonists also prevented relapses into drinking amongst the rats, many of which were specially bred to drink large quantities of alcohol.
The researchers are optimistic that similar effects could be observed in humans, once the research is developed further.
Previous studies have argued that GLP-1 agonists can reduce the desire for cocaine, amphetamine and nicotine cravings.
The findings were published in Addict Biology.

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