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Substance Abuse and Thyroid Function

man discusses substance abuse and thyroid function with doctor

Abusing drugs and alcohol affects every bodily function, and can be especially detrimental to certain organs and systems.  While some of these issues are well known, such as liver disease from excessive alcohol use, other drug and alcohol-related dysfunctions are not commonly understood to be significant risks.  Among these issues are problems with the thyroid gland. The thyroid is gland at the base of the neck that produces hormones to regulate many critical bodily functions. Damage to the thyroid gland caused by drug and alcohol abuse can lead to many serious health issues. Although small, the thyroid plays a large role in the function and regulation of the body.  The hormones secreted by the thyroid affect the heart, metabolism, brain, bones, and mood. Some people develop thyroid dysfunction which may result in an overactive thyroid, known as hyperthyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, known as hypothyroidism.  Either of these conditions can cause severe symptoms such as anxiety, issues with appetite, sudden weight loss or gain, heart palpitations, tremors, fatigue, memory impairment, painful joints, and depression. Women are especially susceptible to hypothyroidism as they age.  

Hormone Imbalances Can Cause a Myriad of Problems

Drugs and alcohol are essentially poisons that can affect hormone production by damaging the thyroid.  Alcohol contains phytoestrogens, and can create an imbalance of estrogen when consumed in excess. Additionally, alcohol can turn androgen and testosterone, the male hormones, into more estrogen.  This hormonal imbalance can cause the thyroid to function improperly, further exacerbating the lack of regulation in the body. In men especially, this can lead to mood changes, increased belly fat, fatigue, and loss of muscle mass, among other issues.  Similar to the effects of alcohol, opioid abuse can lead to endocrinopathy, a condition that affects androgen and cortisol production. An imbalance of these hormones can create many issues including mood problems and sexual dysfunction. Anyone who believes they may be experiencing thyroid issues as a result of drug or alcohol abuse should seek medical treatment and find a quality program for addiction recovery.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, now is the time to reach out for help.  At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  We use an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness.  If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.