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Are Hormones Responsible for Your Addiction?

Are Hormones Responsible for Your Addiction?

Could hormones be the reason for your addiction?

Hormones may influence more than what we think. There is evidence that the hormone progesterone may influence levels of depression, anxiety, and even addiction. If you are currently on birth control or thinking of going off of birth control, you need to read this.

Progesterone is a hormone that stimulates and regulates various functions, but one of its main functions is preparing the body for conception and pregnancy while regulating the monthly menstrual cycle to maintain pregnancy.

However, progesterone receptors have been found in the blood vessels, the liver, breast tissue, the bone, and the brain. These receptors influence the functioning of all those parts of the body.  In fact, progesterone regulates dopamine by suppressing prolactin and estrogen, which increases the “dopamine neuron number of embryonic stem cells.”

So what does this all mean?

Essentially, when your progesterone levels drop, it can cause a variety of negative effect such as:

  • Weight Gain
  • Bloating
  • Changes in Appetite
  • Muscle and Joint Pain
  • Sleeplessness
  • Irritability
  • Changes in Appetite
  • Muscle and Joint Pain

Shockingly, researchers have discovered that when women struggling with addiction increased their progesterone hormone, they have increased rates of abstinence. The progesterone hormone plays a role in curtailing smoking and cocaine use in women with drug use disorders.

According to a study titled Role of Progesterone in Nicotine Addiction: Evidence From Initiation to Relapse, it is the lack of progesterone and the dominance of estrogen that trigger these addictive dispositions. Drs. Wendy Lynch and Mehmet Sofuoglu who led the study elaborate:

“While the mechanism of gender differences in nicotine addiction is not yet clear, evidence suggests that while estrogen may underlie enhanced vulnerability in females, progesterone may protect females.”

Progesterone also plays a role in nicotine addiction and may contribute to increasing vulnerabilities to nicotine addiction.

“Hormone transition phases, such as those that occur at adolescence, and during pregnancy and following birth, as well as following hormonal manipulation (e.g., using methods of hormonal birth control), may all contribute to changes in vulnerability to nicotine addiction.”

In addition to nicotine addiction, progesterone is found in other studies to contribute to opioid addiction and increase cocaine use. Furthermore, researchers discovered that as progesterone levels increased in women, their ability to abstain from cocaine improved.  At the point, the connection was clear:

“There is biological plausibility for the efficacy of progesterone on cocaine use. Progesterone and its active metabolites affect a wide-range of central nervous system functions including modulation of cognitive function, mood, stress response, analgesia, [and] reward processing and response to stimulant drugs,” the study authors note.

Still, how can a woman increase progesterone or even know if more progesterone is needed? One way is through identifying symptoms from going on and coming off birth control. Some women find their depression symptoms decrease after going on birth control and swiftly return after going off them.  Women can also request a hormone evaluation from their physician; however, this is difficult since insurance does not always cover it.

Female addicts especially should consider the role progesterone defiance may have on their vulnerability to addiction. Having this area addressed could make a major impact on maintaining sobriety.

As Dr. Wendy Lynch and Dr. Mehmet Sofuoglu explains,

“A greater understanding of the role of progesterone in addiction is important not only from a treatment standpoint but also from a prevention standpoint.”


How can we have a better understanding of this? Hormones play such a major role in the function of our entire bodies. Studies like this help us understand addiction and hopefully prevent it in the future. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now 1-800-777-9588.

Author: Shernide Delva

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