Can Ozempic, Wegovy reduce alcohol, nicotine and other cravings? Doctor weighs in on what to know.

Can Ozempic, Wegovy reduce alcohol, nicotine and other cravings? Doctor weighs in on what to know.

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Patients who take drugs like Wegovy or Ozempic for weight loss may notice another side effect, according to some users, including reduced cravings for alcohol, nicotine and even opioids.

In an interview with CBS News’ Anne-Marie Green Thursday, Dr. Tamika Henry, founder of the California-based Unlimited Health Institute, explained Ozempic works with the reward centers in our brain.

“When we think about the reward centers, it releases dopamine, which is our feel-good hormone. So what happens is, when you do a certain activity, dopamine surges — and you’re like, ‘Oh, I want to keep doing that,’ whether that’s indulging in alcohol, nicotine or even gambling,” she said. “How Ozempic works is, it decreases the surge of dopamine, and therefore the desire for that particular activity is decreased.”

So in the same way it can help people who may eat compulsively, some think it could also help people with other compulsive behaviors. But, as Henry said, there’s not enough evidence yet.

“There are studies that are done in rats and there has been anecdotal stories,” she said, but added “we need more studies to verify.”

Earlier this month, another study showed Wegovy can also reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke by 20%.

While this clinical trial performed by drugmaker Novo Nordisk is not yet peer-reviewed, Henry said decreasing health concerns like diabetes does have a “long-term effect of decreasing the risk for cardiovascular events.”

“Anytime you’re losing weight, reducing the need for medication — yes, you will get reduced in this particular area,” she said.

The risk of negative side effects is also a factor to consider with these drugs, including for uses beyond weight loss.

“As you’re thinking about decreasing an addiction, yes, you want to do that, but is there also going to be some association with nausea? Are you also going to have problems with heartburn, fatigue?” Henry says. “The other thing is taking a medication is just part of it. You need to start to do the other things that help you along the way. Because if the medication is removed, then what happens?”

As weight loss drugs rise in popularity, doctors have warned about the potential side effects, including life-threatening complications if they need surgery or other procedures that require empty stomachs for anesthesia. 

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