Scientists are researching whether drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy can potentially help patients with alcoholism and other addictive behaviors
While Ozempic and Wegovy are creating buzz as weight loss aids, some users say the medications have helped them control urges that have nothing to do with food. Now, scientists are researching whether the drugs can potentially help patients struggling with alcoholism or other addictive behaviors.
Ozempic — prescription medication for type 2 diabetes — and Wegovy — prescription medication for clinical obesity — are brand names for semaglutide, which works in the brain to impact satiety.
Ania Jastreboff, M.D., PhD., an obesity medicine physician scientist at Yale University, tells PEOPLE that some patients notice a reduced craving for alcohol when on the medications.
“Clinically, I've seen this. Some patients report that they have less desire to drink alcohol. For example, they used to drink a couple of glasses of wine, now they'll drink a half a glass of wine and they don't think to drink the rest of the glass,” she explains. “So it's as if they have the reward, or whatever it is that they were getting from drinking that wine, they have it from a smaller amount. Or they're just not inclined to have a glass of wine.”
Although there are these reports of people on Ozempic and Wegovy experiencing less desire for drugs and having more control over other urges like shopping or nail biting, Jastreboff says additional research is needed to understand the impact of the weekly injections before they can be dubbed “anti-addiction drugs.”
However, she believes the drugs may indeed have that kind of effect because they signal the brain via hormones.
“If you think about these medications, the way we think that they work is by working in the brain, and each part of the brain communicates with other parts of the brain,” Jastreboff says. “So these medications may be impacting parts of the brain that communicate with areas that determine how much reward we get from eating certain foods, consuming alcohol or other things.”
“It's all similar brain pathways that are involved in this. So the brain pathways that are involved in pleasure that we get from eating food are brain pathways that are also involved in pleasure or motivation that we have for consuming other things, like alcohol,” she continues. “So I think that this is an important area of research, and research is ongoing to look at the impact of these medications.”
Martin Lange — Executive Vice President of Development for Novo Nordisk, the maker of Ozempic and Wegovy — told Insider that “it's fair to speculate that you could have similar effects on craving for tobacco or craving for alcohol."
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.