Reviewed by Dr. Chad Gilliam PA

Do you struggle to lose weight and keep it off? The United States is currently facing a pressing challenge in the fight against obesity. Statistics indicate that almost 42% of American adults are struggling with obesity, while another 30.7% are overweight. These conditions come with increased risks for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

If you’re struggling with obesity or other weight-related health issues, there may be a solution for you. The FDA has approved Contrave and semaglutide for chronic weight management in adults. 

If you are obese with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater or are overweight with a BMI of 27 or greater and have at least one weight-related health concern, you may be eligible for one of these weight loss drugs.

Both medications offer unique approaches to weight management, but which one is right for you?

In this blog post, we will compare the effectiveness, side effects, and cost of Contrave and semaglutide to help you make an informed decision about which one may be the best option for you.

Key Takeaway

Contrave combines two medications, naltrexone and bupropion, to suppress appetite and cravings. Semaglutide, on the other hand, works by mimicking gut hormones to control appetite and improve blood sugar management. These medications, along with a healthy diet and exercise, have been proven effective in aiding weight loss.

What Is Contrave?

Contrave is a combination of two medications: bupropion and naltrexone. These medications are used for weight management in adults with obesity or overweight. 

Bupropion is an antidepressant that can also help reduce appetite and cravings by increasing feelings of fullness. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist primarily used to treat addiction. Combining these medications helps reduce food intake and increase energy expenditure, leading to weight loss.


In a clinical trial of over 4,300 participants, those taking Contrave had an average weight loss of 5-10% of their body weight. Additionally, individuals who took Contrave for one year were able to maintain significant weight loss compared to those who stopped taking the medication.

Side Effects

The most common side effects of Contrave include nausea, constipation, headaches, and sleep disturbances. To avoid these side effects, the dosage of the medication starts low and gradually increases over time to build patient tolerance.

Other potential side effects include dry mouth, dizziness, and increased blood pressure. Additionally, naltrexone can cause liver damage in rare cases, so regular monitoring is necessary while taking Contrave. This medication may also cause changes in mood and, in rare cases, thoughts of suicide.

If you experience any side effects, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider immediately.

What Is Semaglutide?

Semaglutide is an injectable drug that is a GLP-1 receptor agonist. GLP-1 is a hormone that helps to lower blood sugar levels and regulate metabolism

Like Contrave, semaglutide operates in the brain’s appetite control center to reduce hunger and in the reward center to suppress cravings. It also functions in the stomach to slow the emptying process, leading to early and prolonged sensations of fullness. Additionally, it works at the pancreas and other locations within the body to improve insulin sensitivity and optimize blood sugar management.


In a recent clinical study, semaglutide was found to be highly effective in aiding weight loss, with participants losing an average of 15% of their body weight over 68 weeks.

Side Effects

The most common side effects of semaglutide include nausea, diarrhea, and constipation. These side effects are typically mild and resolve within the first few weeks of treatment. However, it is essential to monitor your heart rate and blood pressure while taking the medication as it may cause an increase in both.

If you experience nausea, diarrhea, or abdominal pain that doesn’t go away while taking semaglutide, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Contrave vs. Semaglutide: What to Consider

When choosing which medication is right for you, there are a few factors to consider.

Are You Ready for a Change?

Both of these weight loss drugs require commitment. Take some time to assess your readiness and determine which mode of administration you are more likely to stick to for long-term success. You need to decide if you are willing to take a pill twice a day or if a once-weekly injection is a better fit for your routine. 

Weight loss medications work best with a comprehensive approach that includes a reduced-calorie diet, increased physical activity, and behavior changes. Counseling and working with your healthcare provider can enhance your experience and outcomes.

Your Health Matters

The decision about which medication to take also depends on your health. Individuals with a history of certain medical conditions, such as cardiovascular disease or seizure disorders, may better suit one medication over the other. A thorough health evaluation and discussion with your healthcare provider are essential in choosing the appropriate treatment.

The Cost

When deciding which medication to take, you should also consider the cost of Contrave and semaglutide and your insurance coverage. 

Contrave may be more affordable for some as it is available as a generic drug. However, semaglutide is a newer medication that may be more expensive and not covered by all insurance policies.

It’s always a good idea to check with your insurance and medical provider to see which medication best fits you and your budget.

Madison Wellness & Aesthetic Center: Weight Loss in Madison, AL

Are you tired of struggling with weight management on your own? Let Madison Wellness & Aesthetics Center guide you toward a healthier lifestyle. Dr. Gary Adams, a specialist in ‘medical weight loss and wellness in Madison, AL,’ uses an integrative approach to help you achieve lasting results. Achieve your weight loss goals with personalized and compassionate care!

Contact us today to schedule your consultation and learn whether Contrave, semaglutide or another of our services can pave the way to your wellness success. Call (256) 722-0555 or complete the online booking form. Your journey to better health starts here!