Helpline information

Get Help Now

100% Confidential and free


24/7 Treatment Help

For immediate Treatment Help Call:

Recover with us - We're here to help. 24/7 Treatment Help:

Trusted content

Could New Weight Loss Drug Ozempic Cure Addiction?

obese fat man preparing A man holding a Semaglutide Ozempic injection to control blood sugar levels

Published: October 25, 2023

People have reported decreased drug and alcohol intake and even nail-biting when taking Ozempic. This has prompted researchers to begin studying Ozempic as a possible method for treating drug addiction.

Ozempic is a pharmaceutical drug that has long been used to treat type 2 diabetes in adults. It has recently been in the news due to its ability to assist in meaningful weight loss as a side effect.

An interesting new side effect has emerged with Ozempic and similar drugs. People who have been taking Ozempic have noticed not only a decrease in cravings and thoughts of food but also in other areas of addiction — such as smoking and drinking.

There is no specific drug or treatment for addiction or a one-size-fits-all method to end substance abuse. As of October 2023, there have not been any major clinical studies on the ability of Ozempic to treat addiction, and the side effects are still unknown.

What Is Ozempic and What Does it Treat?

Answer: Ozempic (semaglutide) is an injectable medication taken once a week for assistance with blood sugar control in adults with type 2 diabetes.

It has also been approved as a preventative treatment for health conditions such as strokes, heart attacks, and death.

Ozempic works by imitating peptide-1(GLP-1), which helps regulate blood sugar levels by encouraging weight loss. Semaglutide and other GLP-1 drugs work by binding themselves to receptors in order to prompt a specific reaction from the body.

Initially, it was meant to bind with the pancreas. However, researchers noticed that it had the ability to bind with other organs in the body, including the brain. It affects the brain’s “reward pathway” and lowers dopamine, a hormone associated with addiction.

Ozempic was designed for adults with type 2 diabetes, not for weight loss or addiction treatment. However, weight loss and a lessening of cravings have been a side effect of taking the medication.

How Could Ozempic Help Treat Addiction?

Answer: Researchers believe Ozempic could work in a similar way to the way the drug affects weight loss patients to treat addiction: by reducing thoughts that lead to addictive behaviors, such as using drugs or alcohol.

Ozempic, and a similar drug known as Wegovy, mimic glucagon-like peptide-1 that is usually naturally produced in our intestines, and makes us feel full.

Due to producing the feeling of fullness, people taking this medicine have been losing weight — a major side effect for those struggling with obesity.

Janice Jin Hwang of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine has reported that people taking this medicine no longer find the same foods to be “exciting,” and they no longer have lingering thoughts of eating foods.

Ways Ozempic Could Alleviate Addiction Symptoms

GLP-1 receptors can be found in both the adrenal gland and the reward center of the brain — this is where stimuli that can lead to addiction are found.

In the same way that Ozempic reduces cravings for food, there is potential for it also to reduce cravings for other types of addictions.

Animal studies on mice have shown that Ozempic has assisted in greatly decreasing behaviors associated with cocaine addiction.

Some of the ways that Ozempic can assist with improving mental health and decreasing addictive behaviors include the following:

Reducing Drug or Alcohol Cravings

Ozempic is known for affecting the reward center of the brain and may cut off the feelings of gratification that can lead to addiction to substances, including drugs (such as opioids like fentanyl, amphetamines, and benzodiazepines) and alcohol.

Providing a Feeling of Satisfaction

One of the ways Ozempic works is by creating a feeling of fullness or satiety. This means you will not need as much food to feel full as you previously would have, which can lead to weight loss and reduce obesity.

Reducing Feelings of Stress and Anxiety

A major trigger for addiction is feelings of stress and anxiety. Ozempic is known to be able to enhance a person’s mood, reducing their levels of stress and anxiety. This can be very helpful when trying to quit an addiction.

Ozempic could, researchers presume, produce a similar feeling of satisfaction to stem the cravings for addictive substances.

What Are The Side Effects of Ozempic for Treating Addiction?

Currently, the only known side effects of Ozempic have been associated with diabetes 2 treatment and weight loss, not addiction treatment.

Being prescribed medication for something other than what it was intended for by a medical provider is called off-label use.

Some of the side effects that have been reported with off-label use include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Malaise
  • Fatigue
  • Change in bowel movements
  • Pancreatitis (rare)
  • Gallstones (rare)

More research needs to be done in this area in order to have a more developed idea of what side effects could be caused by taking Ozempic for addiction treatment.

Is Ozempic Being Tested to Treat Addiction?

Answer: Yes, Ozempic and Wygocy are being tested right now as possible ways to treat drug and alcohol use disorders.

Successful clinical trials are underway on mice at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, giving hope for a possible addiction treatment for humans.

So far, the most significant human trial completed tested “exenatide,” which was an earlier GLP-1 agonist drug. This drug is no longer widely used. The test was run on 127 people who all reported to have alcohol use disorder.

Researchers noticed that these people, when taking Ozempic, no longer showed increased activity in the parts of the brain that usually light up when shown pictures of alcohol. However, this was mostly successful only in participants who were also obese.

When Will Ozempic Be Available for People in Addiction Recovery?

Unfortunately, people seeking to use Ozempic as an official anti-addiction drug will probably have to wait a while before seeing it become available.

While the FDA has approved Ozempic for the treatment of Diabetes 2, it has not yet been officially approved to treat addiction.

Both Novo Nordisk, the creator of Ozempic, and Eli Lilly, which makes a similar drug known as Mounjaro, are currently not running any trials on addiction treatment with their drugs. Researchers have taken it upon themselves to run these studies, which could take months at the earliest.

The Federal Drug Administration will then need to vigorously test Ozempic and make sure that it is actually safe to be used in this manner, which could take around five years.

Can Ozempic Cure Addiction?

Answer: Unfortunately, no specific class of drugs or treatment will “cure” addiction.

Overcoming addiction requires mental and behavioral changes from a person who is ready to end their addiction. However, Ozempic has the potential to assist in helping people break free from drug or alcohol dependency.

There are still many details about Ozempic and its relation to treating addiction that scientists are researching. For instance, would someone only need to take Ozempic initially to begin the process, or would they need to be on Ozempic long-term?

These are questions which can only be answered with time and diligent research.

Find Research-Approved Rehab Programs Now

If you or a loved one are living with a substance use disorder and are ready to start a new life without drugs or alcohol, it is important to know you are not alone.

Help is available for those who are in need. Our addiction specialists are ready to assist you in finding a research-approved rehab program that fits your specific needs.

Contact us today to take your first steps to an addiction-free life.

© 2024 All Rights reserved.