Exploring the Potential Impact of GLP-1 Receptor Agonists on Substance Use, Compulsive Behavior, and Libido: Insights from Social Media Using a Mixed-Methods Approach

Davide Arillotta, Giuseppe Floresta, G. Duccio Papanti Pelletier, Amira Guirguis, John Martin Corkery, Giovanni Martinotti, Fabrizio Schifano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is involved in a range of central and peripheral pathways related to appetitive behavior. Hence, this study explored the effects of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor ag-onists (GLP-1 RAs) on substance and behavioral addictions, including alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, cannabis, psychostimulants, compulsive shopping, and sex drive/libido. Data were collected from various social platforms. Keywords related to GLP-1 RAs and substance/behavioral addiction were used to extract relevant comments. The study employed a mixed-methods approach to analyze online discussions posted from December 2019 to June 2023 and collected using a specialized web application. Reddit entries were the focus here due to limited data from other platforms, such as TikTok and YouTube. A total of 5859 threads and related comments were extracted from six sub-reddits, which included threads about GLP-1 RAs drugs and associated brand names. To obtain relevant posts, keywords related to potential substance use and compulsive behavior were selected. Further analysis involved two main steps: (1) manually coding posts based on users’ references to the potential impact of GLP-1 RAs on substance use and non-substance habits, excluding irrelevant or unclear comments; (2) performing a thematic analysis on the dataset of keywords, using AI-assisted techniques followed by the manual revision of the generated themes. Second, a thematic analysis was performed on the keyword-related dataset, using AI-assisted techniques followed by the manual revision of the generated themes. In total, 29.75% of alcohol-related; 22.22% of caffeine-related; and 23.08% of nicotine-related comments clearly stated a cessation of the intake of these substances following the start of GLP-1 RAs prescription. Conversely, mixed results were found for cannabis intake, and only limited, anecdotal data were made available for cocaine, en-tactogens, and dissociative drugs’ misuse. Regarding behavioral addictions, 21.35% of comments reported a compulsive shopping interruption, whilst the sexual drive/libido elements reportedly increased in several users. The current mixed-methods approach appeared to be a useful tool in gaining insight into complex topics such as the effects of GLP-1 RAs on substance and non-substance addiction-related disorders; some GLP-1 RA-related mental health benefits could also be inferred from here. Overall, it appeared that GLP-1 RAs may show the potential to target both substance craving and maladaptive/addictive behaviors, although further empirical research is needed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number617
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalBrain Sciences
Volume14
Issue number6
Early online date20 Jun 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2024

Keywords

  • GLP-1 receptor agonists
  • semaglutide
  • mental health
  • craving
  • substance
  • addiction
  • food noise
  • shopping
  • sex
  • social media

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring the Potential Impact of GLP-1 Receptor Agonists on Substance Use, Compulsive Behavior, and Libido: Insights from Social Media Using a Mixed-Methods Approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this