Opiate Use and Decreased Hormone Levels

Chronic use of opiates have long been associated with lower levels of androgens including testosterone, hypogonadism, adrenal dysfunction, pituitary dysfunction, reduced bone mineral density, and growth-hormone abnormalities. In addition, some studies have suggested abnormalities in glucose and lipid metabolism among opiate users. Studies have shown that long-term opiate use may lead to opiate induced hypogonadism, resulting in significantly decreased testosterone levels in men.

The correlation between opiate-induced hypogonadism and associated side effects such as osteoporosis, sexual dysfunction, lack of libido, loss of muscle tone, decrease in muscle mass and strength in male patients has been clearly documented. Marked testosterone deficiency is a well established factor for both osteoporosis and altered sexual function. Recent information demonstrates that opiate use and altered estrogen levels in females may play a role in these side effects as well.

Once the patient is free from the opiate addiction, thus no longer using subuxone, methadone, etc., and regains their health, the levels of testosterone and estrogen may return to normal without medical treatment. There are no well designed studies defining the average recovery time. 

Indian Lake Medical Weight Loss offers PEAK TESTOSTERONE therapy – using gonadatropins – to increase the LH hormone. Please see the  Peak Testosterone Therapy Tab for more info. 

HORMONE DEFICIENCIES WITH OPIATE USE CAN GO LARGELY UNRECOGNIZED BY MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS

Although quite common, Opiate-induced androgen deficiency and has gone largely unrecognized by the medical community. Low testosterone is caused by opioid drug inhibition of LH (Leutininizing Hormone), a pituitary hormone involved in testosterone production, as well as direct inhibition of testosterone itself. Similarly, there is also inhibition of the entire endocrine system, and adrenal hormone suppression.

Symptoms of low testosterone include fatigue, depression, hot flashes, night sweats, erectile dysfunction, low to non-existent libido, diminished sexual arousal and satisfaction, lethargy, and flat emotions. This can affect fertility in some cases. Men may also develop osteoporosis, anemia, and diminished muscle mass and muscle tone. 

Women who consume opiates may stop having menstrual cycles and will notice greatly diminished libido (sex drive) and may have problems conceiving.