Are Hormones Responsible for Your Addiction?, Environmental | United States – New York, hormones

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June 13, 2017 4:59 am Published by

Are HormonesResponsible for Your Addiction?, drug addiction, cocaine

Are Hormones Responsible for Your Addiction?, Environmental | United States - New YorkIt’s a question female addicts should begin to ask.

When I had six years sober, my husband and I decided to get pregnant. I quit the birthcontrol pill and entered the darkest depression of my life.

I wasn’t surprised when the testresults came back. After three chemical pregnancies and one miscarriage, it was clear that I was havingtroublegettingpregnant. But what I didn’t expect was that my fertility troubles might be related to my past struggles with addiction. And what was that common ground? A lack of progesterone.

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For years, I had struggled with depression. Though I never charted the highs and lows of my mental health to determine whether it was hormonal, after my OB/GYN explained to me that low progesterone levels could not only cause difficulty in the implantation process, but also depression, I felt like the detective at the end of Usual Suspects, Kaiser Soze. That’s what’s wrong with me.

Progesterone is one of the hormones that stimulates and regulates various functions, playing a key role in preparing the body for conception and pregnancywhile regulating the monthly menstrual cycle in order to maintain pregnancy.

But progesterone receptors have also been discovered in the blood vessels, the liver, breast tissue, the bone, and the brain, and have an important influence in the functioning of all those parts of the body. In fact, progesterone plays a key role in regulating dopamine by suppressing prolactin and estrogen, and helps to increase the “dopamine neuron number of embryonic stem cells.” Whatever that means.

“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] rewardprocessing and responseto stimulant drugs.”,[catagory] ,hormones, drug addiction, cocaine

When progesterone levels dip, however, this leads to an imbalance between progesterone and estrogen, with estrogen becoming the dominant hormone in a women’s system. Low progesterone can cause weight gain, bloating, changes in appetite, muscle and joint pain, sleeplessness, irritability, anxiety and depression. But researchers have discovered that when people struggling with addiction are given progesterone, they have higher rates of abstinence; the hormone plays a therapeutic role in curtailing smoking and cocaine use in women with drug use disorders.

When I was 12 years old, I had my first cigarette. It would be yearsbefore I would have my officialfirstdrunk, let alone drug, but I remember that firstsmoke as though it was yesterday. By 12, I was beginning to feel the first pangs of what I would later understand to be depression, and though it would be two more yearsbefore I would get my period, I was beginning to suffer from the mood swings typically associated with menstrual cycles. But that first Camel Light put everything at ease.

According to Drs. Wendy Lynch and Mehmet Sofuoglu in their study, Role of Progesterone in Nicotine Addiction: Evidence From Initiation to Relapse, it is actually estrogen dominance (and progesterone weakness) which trigger these addictive dispositions: “While the mechanism of genderdifferences in nicotine addiction is not yet clear, evidence suggests that while estrogen may underlie enhanced vulnerability in females, progesterone may protect females.”

By the time I was 20, I was takingbirthcontrol pills. No doctor ever tested my estrogen levels. I was prescribed YAZ, a low-estrogen pill that it seemed like all women took in the 2000s, and struggled with a depression so deep, I frequently wound up in bed a few days out of the month, unable to function and plagued by suicide ideation. I was chronically 15 to 20 pounds overweight, and also, by that point, I had become an addict.

Finally, after 15 years on the pill (and over six years sober), my husband and I decided to get pregnant. I quit the pill and entered the darkest depression of my life. I went to doctors but none were able to determine what was wrong with me and offered no solutions other than anti-depressants, which I had never taken and didn’t want to start right before I had a baby. Instead, I waited it out, and startedtrying to get pregnant. And failing.

By the time I had my miscarriage, a doctorfinally was willing to test my hormone levels. As my husband and I sat across the table from her, I prayed that it was as simple as a hormonal imbalance. That at least could be fixed. And I was thrilled when she read that my progesterone was below the average number. As she began to ask about my mental health, I wondered why this was the firsttime I was having the conversation.

As Lynch and Sofuoglu argue in Role of Progesterone in Nicotine Addiction, “Hormone transition phases, such as those that occur at adolescence, and duringpregnancy and followingbirth, as well as following hormonal manipulation (e.g., using methods of hormonal birthcontrol), may all contribute to changes in vulnerability to nicotine addiction.” But as anothergroup of researchers have discovered, it isn’t only nicotine addiction which is linked to progesterone, but cocaine and opioid as well. As proposed by Kimberly Ann Yonkers, Ariadna Forray, et al. in Progesterone Reduces Cocaine Use in Postpartum Women with a Cocaine Use Disorder: A Randomized,Double-Blind Study, “Progesterone modulates multiple brain functions implicated in the pathogenesis of drug addiction.”


Testing post-partum women who also identified as cocaine addicts, the researchers discovered that when progesterone levels were raised in the group of women, they were better able to abstain from cocaine use. 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] rewardprocessing and response to stimulant drugs.”

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