Experts Believe Ozempic Could Be Used To Treat Addiction
Since 2017, the injectable prescription drug, Ozempic, has been used by type 2 diabetics to help manage their blood sugar. Ozempic’s popularity has grown significantly in recent years for its incredible weight loss side effects. Because of this, Ozempic has become one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the country, with nearly 5 million prescriptions in 2020. However, scientists have recently started to realize that Ozempic might do even more than regulate hunger and blood sugar; it may have potential as a treatment medication for substance use disorders.
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Scientists believe the same traits that made Ozempic a popular weight loss drug, those being its ability to make people less interested in food, could also be harnessed to help people give up addictions to cigarettes, alcohol, and other substances. Even before scientists started looking into its addiction treatment potential, patients who were prescribed Ozempic reported dialing back on beers, coffee, and smoking. Additionally, patients who have taken Ozempic have reported the ability to control their impulses more, especially when it comes to buying and eating junk food.
Ozempic, as a weight loss and craving-control drug, act as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which regulates hunger by communicating with the brain to produce certain levels of insulin and lower blood sugar. Ozempic, like other drugs that interact with GLP-1, acts on the reward center of the brain, which scientists believe could have similar effects on alcohol, tobacco, or other substances.
“GLP-1 receptor [medications] decrease the reward the brain feels from addictive behaviors like eating, drinking, smoking, shopping, etc,” says obesity medicine specialist Shauna Levy at Tulane University. “I have noticed that people want to drink less alcohol. I have also noticed a decrease in binge eating behavior,” she added.
How Could Ozempic Help With Addiction?
Currently, there are a handful of clinical trials studying the effects of other GLP-1 drugs, similar to Ozempic, on the brain. Scientists say that one study in particular, involving lab mice, has shown “profound effects on cocaine-mediated behaviors.”
Another study, funded by the company that makes Ozempic, found that reward centers in the brains of people with alcohol use disorder who took a similar drug lit up less on fMRI scans when they saw pictures of alcohol. This has made addiction specialists extremely hopeful, with some quick to point to drugs like Ozempic as a “cure” for addiction.
It’s important to note, however, that these are still ideas, and while there are some studies being conducted on lab mice, there are currently no human trials underway.
Ozempic Has Also Been Found To Help With Depression
Along with hopes that Ozempic could soon be used to treat people with substance use disorders, it has also been found to help those with depression, due to the unique ways it impacts thinking and cognition. Currently, a small phase 2 study of 60 patients is underway in Toronto to test the theory.
While Ozempic may be a potential treatment medication for addiction down the road, it’s important to understand that it is still being studied. Ozempic is still a prescription medication, meaning it should only be taken by those who have received a prescription from a medical professional. Additionally, for those with a prescription, it’s important to talk with your doctor before making any changes to your Ozempic regimen.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or other mental health concerns, there are plenty of researched, safe, and effective medications available to help you throughout recovery. To learn more about medication assisted treatment, or to learn more about treatment options, contact a treatment provider today to learn more.
Zachary Pottle earned his B.A. in Professional Writing from Saint Leo University and has over three years of journalistic experience. His passion for writing has led him to a career in journalism, where he specializes in writing about stories in the pain management and healthcare industry. His main goal as a writer is to bring readers accurate, trustworthy content that serve as useful resources for bettering their lives or the lives of those around them.
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