News / Articles
Long-term use of opioid medications may lead to the development of hormone deficiencies in many people, revealed a recent study. The bodies of the affected individuals fail to produce enough hormones, like testosterone and cortisol, leading to chronic physical and mental health problems. The study findings were presented at the ENDO 2019 and were published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.
Study investigator, Amir Zamanipoor Najafabadi, a Ph.D. student at the Leiden University Medical Center, stated that the aforementioned hormone deficiencies may lead to several other symptoms such as extreme fatigue, mental dissatisfaction, and infertility. The irony is that a lot of people do not realize that these symptoms are possibly caused due to increased usage of opioids or opioid medications.
Long-term opioid use led to hypogonadism and hypocortisolism
Najafabadi and his colleagues systematically reviewed 52 studies published before May 2018 to assess the hormones that were affected due to opioids and the percentage of patients who had a hormone deficiency. The researchers observed that in around half of the studies, the patients were prescribed opioids to provide relief from constant pain.
From the lot of the 52 studies, the researchers narrowed down the number of studies to only those which dealt with long-term opioid usage (more than six months). After the analysis, the researchers found evidence of two conditions – hypogonadism, a condition in which the body does not produce enough testosterone; and hypocortisolism, a disorder in which the body does not produce enough cortisol.
Further, 15 studies suggested that 65 percent men out of the 3,250 patients who were using opioids for a long time, had hypogonadism. This condition in men caused a lot of health issues such as infertility, erectile dysfunction, decreased muscle mass and body hair, and the development of breasts.
Patients using long-term prescription opioids should get themselves tested
The researchers also discovered that in five other studies around 19 percent individuals out of the 207 patients who were using opioids since a long time had hypocortisolism. According to the Hormone Health Network (HHN), since cortisol impacts several other functions in the body, its deficiency may cause varied symptoms such as weight loss, fatigue, and mood swings.
Thus, it is imperative that patients using opioid medications for more than six months get themselves tested to figure out if they suffer from the above mentioned hormone deficiencies. The study created an awareness among long-term opioid users regarding the frequent endocrinological issues and the importance of regular endocrine checkups which is usually not done by patients.
However, Najafabadi stated that the present study does not provide enough evidence regarding the impact of opioids on other endocrine functions in the body. He thus stressed the need for further research pertaining to opioid-induced effects on other endocrine functions, its impact on female sex hormones, and the management of related symptoms.
Seeking treatment for opioid abuse
At the moment, the United States is dealing with one of the worst ever drug crises in its history. The best way to deal with an addiction to opioids is to enroll into an opioid addiction treatment program. An opioid recovery program is dependent on factors like the type of opioids abused, the duration of abuse, the source of the dose, and the time elapsed since the last dose.
If you or a loved one is battling with opioid addiction and are looking out for reliable drug rehabilitation centers, reach out to the Hillside Mission. Known as one of the best drug detox centers in California, Hillside Mission provides customized, research-backed detox treatment interventions in a safe and secure environment. For more information about our drug detox clinics in California call our 24/7 detox treatment helpline 866-225-6101 and speak to a member from our admissions team. You can also chat online with our representative for further assistance.