Experts warn of dangerous weight loss drug side effect: reckless behvavior

Experts are warning of one more potential side effect to popular weight loss drugs: reckless behavior. 

According to two experts, the drugs could cause people to act out of character, engaging in risky behavior, like gambling, or making huge life changes, like getting a divorce, reports the Daily Mail

Experts argue that weight loss drugs could cause some people to develop an impulse control disorder. Europa Press via Getty Images

Collectively, such behavior is called impulse control disorder — an umbrella term that encompasses conditions that make it tough to control your actions. This could include everything from angry outbursts to more serious disorders like pyromania, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

The researchers wrote a journal article published earlier this month in the QJM stating that “effects on cognition [have] received scant attention.”

Most studies focus only on the rapid weight loss phase of using these drugs, with very few studies focusing on longer-term outcomes, they argue.

The authors of a new article say this wouldn’t be the first time a drug is associated with a negative behavioral change. AP

The co-authors, who include a gastroenterologist and psychiatrist, go on to say they have become aware of individuals who have started the blockbuster GLP-1 medications and made major life changes — such as divorce or house moves — within months of beginning their treatment. 

“Without knowing the details underlying these events, the rationale for some of them appears reckless,” the authors conclude.

The researchers said they don’t know why the drugs could cause people to make such decisions, but this wouldn’t be the first time a drug has been associated with an odd or risky behavioral change.

“It is well established that hypersexuality and excessive gambling is associated with taking Levodopa,” Dr. Raymond Playford, one of the paper’s authors, told the Daily Mail. Levodopa, a drug used to treat Parkinson’s disease, has been shown to increase the risk for pathological gambling. Patients who receive the drug are also counseled on this potential side effect.  

Users of the popular weight loss drugs have already reported a number of side effects — from personality changes to “deflated” boobs and butt. AP

“We are advising that doctors also warn patients to look out for urges that are ‘out of character’ or unusual with cost or personal repercussions — for instance divorce — and to ‘step back’ and think whether this is a sensible decision,” Playford explained to the Mail.

“’This warning should allow patients and doctors to reflect and consider whether the decisions some patients have been making are out of character and riskier than one would expect,” the doctor added.

Ozempic, along with other semaglutide or tirzepatide drugs, has been associated with myriad side effects — from so-called Ozempic butt and boobs, to impotence, personality changes and uncomfortable GI issues. 

The paper’s authors acknowledge they haven’t seen evidence of gambling or reckless sexual behavior, but don’t want to rule out the possibility.

“We have not seen excessive gambling or sexual activity in patients to date but we wouldn’t be surprised if this was happening,” Playford noted.