Newsmax TV & Webwww.newsmax.comFREE - In Google Play
Newsmax TV & Webwww.newsmax.comFREE - On the App Store
Tags: ozempic | wegovy | semaglutide | addiction | alcohol | opioids | nicotine

Should You Take Wegovy to Curb an Addiction?

woman's hands around stem of glass of red wine

By    |   Friday, 01 September 2023 12:08 PM EDT

Prescriptions for both the diabetes drug Ozempic, and its weight-loss counterpart Wegovy, have skyrocketed, despite the $1,000 monthly price tags that are not always covered by insurance. But aside from the wildly successful popularity of these medications to help people lose weight, doctors and patients have noticed another benefit. The drugs seem to reduce people’s cravings for alcohol, nicotine, and opioids.

They may also help curve compulsive behaviors, such as gambling and online shopping, according to NPR.

“There’s really been a large number of clinical and anecdotal reports coming in suggesting that people’s drinking behaviors are changing, and in some instances pretty substantially, while taking Ozempic or Wegovy,” said Christian Hendershot, a psychologist and addiction expert at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill School of Medicine. He is leading one of six current clinical trials investigating how the main ingredient of these drugs, semaglutide, alters people’s drinking and smoking habits.

According to The Atlantic, addiction scientists have been testing drugs similar to semaglutide to curb the use of alcohol, cocaine, nicotine and opioids in laboratory animals and the results have been promising. While most treatments are specific to the addiction, Hendershot says that semaglutide and its chemical relatives seem to work on a wide range of addictive behaviors.

Scientists believe that the drug works because it prompts the pancreas to release insulin by mimicking a hormone called GLP-1, or glucagon-like peptide 1. They believe that drugs like semaglutide may act not only on the pancreas, but also in areas of the brain where they bind to receptors on neurons to suppress urges for food, and other things as well.

Specifically, GLP-1 analogs affect the dopamine, feel-good pathways in the brain, which is the reward circuitry. Food and sex, for example, trigger a dopamine hit in the brain that makes us want to repeat the cause of the response. People with addiction have fewer dopamine receptors in the brain so it takes more of a trigger to achieve a pleasure response.

According to Insider, Dr. Paul Kolodzik, a metabolic specialist in Ohio who is also board certified in addiction medicine, says that semaglutide “could be the next big thing in addiction management, certainly related to alcohol.” Kolodzik said that some of his weight-loss patients say they no longer experience alcohol cravings while on the drug. A similar phenomenon was observed in rat studies, too.

For some scientists who have been studying GLP-1 drugs for some time, this side effect is not surprising. For more than a decade, pharmacologist Elisabet Jerlhag and her colleagues at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden have been figuring out how these drugs reduce alcohol consumption in rats, says NPR.

“So, we see a reduction of over 50%, which is quite dramatic,” Jerlhag said, pointing to nearly a dozen studies that demonstrate how these drugs stop binge drinking in rats and mice, prevent relapse in “addicted” animals, and overall decrease their consumption of alcohol.

Other research found that GLP-1 drugs reduced the consumption of nicotine, opioids, as well as psychostimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine in animals. Experts believe that these drugs not only work on blood sugar levels but also in the brain, regulating the mechanism that leads to overeating and addiction.

GLP-1 drugs reduce the release of dopamine, the “feel good” hormone that makes people and animals want to repeat the pleasurable experience. So, after the first taste of beer, the dopamine tells you, “Do it again! Have another gulp!”

The same holds true for overeating. When dopamine release is reduced, the desire for more food or drink appears to dissipate.

Hendershot says that the news of Ozempic’s potential to reduce alcohol consumption is spreading and many people are seeking out the drug to help control their drinking. “We’re also hearing about clinicians prescribing for that reason,” he says. But other experts warn that it’s too early to condone the off-label use of Ozempic and Wegovy for this purpose. There is some concern that people with normal weight may suffer side effects, such as developing pancreatitis, while taking these drugs.

But Dr. Lorenzo Leggio, clinical director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says that people who have diabetes and want to curb their alcohol intake should definitely have a discussion with their doctor about using semaglutide.

© 2023 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

Prescriptions for both the diabetes drug Ozempic, and its weight-loss counterpart Wegovy, have skyrocketed, despite the $1,000 monthly price tags that are not always covered by insurance. But aside from the wildly successful popularity of these medications to help people...
ozempic, wegovy, semaglutide, addiction, alcohol, opioids, nicotine, methamphetamine
Friday, 01 September 2023 12:08 PM
Newsmax Media, Inc.

Sign up for Newsmax’s Daily Newsletter

Receive breaking news and original analysis - sent right to your inbox.

(Optional for Local News)
Privacy: We never share your email address.
Join the Newsmax Community
Read and Post Comments
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
Find Your Condition
Get Newsmax Text Alerts

The information presented on this website is not intended as specific medical advice and is not a substitute for professional medical treatment or diagnosis. Read Newsmax Terms and Conditions of Service.

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved