Can Ozempic and Wegovy really help curb addiction too?

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People say drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy are helping them overcome a variety of addictive behaviors like drinking, smoking and shopping. Anchiy/Getty Images
  • Some Ozempic users report that the drug has helped them control addictive behaviors.
  • In testimonials shared online, some users say they no longer feel the same desire for habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol and gambling.
  • Current research on the addiction-reducing effects of Ozempic is limited to animal models.
  • Some theories suggest that Ozempic may reduce addictive behaviors by altering the pleasure and reward centers of the brain.

Ozempic, a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes, has been making headlines lately for its weight loss benefits.

Now, a growing number of users are reporting that Ozempic and Wegovy, a class of drugs known as GLP-1 agonists that contain the active compound semaglutide, have also reduced their addictive tendencies.

The drugs affect appetite and satiety, but some users claim that taking the drug not only reduced the urge to eat but also reduced the desire to smoke, gamble and drink alcohol.

Meanwhile, other users say Ozempic has helped them keep habits like online shopping and nail biting in check.

In numerous testimonials shared on social media platforms such as TikTok, users of the drug say that the desire to take part in these activities was simply gone once they started taking the drug.

The link between GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy and claims of reduced addictive behaviors may lie in the relationship between the gut and the brain.

There is a strong connection between our brain and our digestive system with millions of messages being sent back and forth every day, Gareth Nye, PhD, senior lecturer in anatomy and physiology and program lead for the BMedSci medical science course at the University of Chester, England, he told Healthline.

The brain has a number of centers with GLP receptors. These usually tell the brain that you have food in your digestive system and to stop eating, but they have also been linked to reward and addictive properties.

Some researchers believe that Ozempic may help curb addiction by making behaviors such as drinking alcohol or smoking less rewarding. Specifically, drugs like Ozempic can decrease pleasure-seeking activities due to the way they interact with dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to pleasure and reward.

Nye said there are three theories about Ozempics’ reported effects on addiction tendencies.

These include a change in the senses of taste and smell, which make some foods and drinks less appealing, a change in the reward triggers in the brain that occur when exposed to a particular habit or substance, and increased avoidance of some chemicals. like the ones found in alcohol and cigarettes, for example.

An important point to note, however, is that much of what we know about the link between Ozempic and addictive behaviors is anecdotal.

The research to support these claims is incredibly limited, and few clinical studies have been conducted to support them.

An animal study published in May 2023 found that drugs like semaglutide reduced alcohol consumption in rodents. However, at present, there are no studies confirming the same in humans.

Early human studies demonstrated the potential for administered GLP-1 agonists to cross the blood-brain barrier and thus have the potential to interfere with normal brain actions, Nye points out.

However, to date, there are few relevant studies to confirm or deny the action GLP-1 drugs such as these have on addictive behaviors, although animal studies are promising.

There’s also the risk that you’re simply trading one vice for another. If you’re using Ozempic as a weight loss tool, you may be leaning on it, rather than addressing the lifestyle habits that contributed to your weight gain in the first place.

There’s also a lot we don’t know about long-term use of Ozempic. Existing research only looks at how it affects the body when used as a weight loss tool for up to two years.

This begs an obvious question: What happens when you stop taking Ozempic? Just as you are at risk of regaining the weight you lost, is it possible your addictive behaviors could return as well?

Nye believes this is highly probable.

She said: When people choose to lose weight by any means, it requires a change in their mindset and behaviors. The same is true when overcoming addiction. As with anything, there is no quick fix or magic cure and it takes commitment and willpower to see lifelong changes for the better.

Laura Lee Wright, a living sober coach and author of Beyond Sober, he agrees. He said, Addiction is a multifaceted problem. For example, people living with alcohol use disorder might use alcohol to feel differently than they do.

Unless the emotional issues are addressed, removing the substance will only create a dry drunk, Wright continues. It is dangerous to suggest that there is a magic pill that can make an addict feel good.

Instead, Wright recommends fellowship with other addicts, group therapy, mental and emotional counseling, and residency-focused rehabilitation as effective ways to treat addiction.

In the thousands of hours of conversation and research I’ve done with recovered addicts, one thing in common is daily treatment for the rest of their lives, he noted.

At present, the link between Ozempic and an improvement in addiction patterns is mostly anecdotal and if you live with addiction, it is best to seek the support of a physician.

While Nye believes these drugs can be a great start for some people in reducing addictive behaviors, she said their long-term effectiveness is limited.

Drugs can only work to a certain physiological extent, and Ozempic doesn’t specifically target addiction. The risk is that users don’t change behaviors associated with addiction, Nye said.

Curbing addiction takes a lot of work and is a constant problem that, unfortunately, a drug like this is not going to change.

#Ozempic #Wegovy #curb #addiction
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