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Substance Abuse and Thyroid Function

a person holds their neck in bed asking how does substance abuse affect thyroid function

Addiction can cause a variety of problems directly stemming from the damaging effects of the substance a person uses. However, some effects on the body may be more indirect. With the complex systems that make up the body, any slight change can throw off how each one functions. Each part of the body relies on hormones in some way or another to work properly. One of the major crossing guards in hormone function is the thyroid, which can face severe damage from substance abuse.

Long-term substance abuse can lead to even longer-term side effects. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, taking the steps toward a healthier future can spare further damage. At The Arbor, we know how difficult it can be to start and continue the road to recovery. Our medical professionals and recovery specialists work closely with our clients to help them succeed in sobriety. Call 844.413.2690 to get started in a substance abuse treatment program today.

How Do Thyroids Work?

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck, just below the Adam’s apple. The thyroid’s job is to make thyroid hormone, which is secreted into the blood and then carried to every tissue in the body.

Thyroid hormones are essential for regulating metabolism, heart rate, and body temperature. They also play a role in brain development during fetal growth and infancy. Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, can cause fertility, mental health, and weight problems. Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, can also cause fertility problems, as well as anxiety, sleep problems, and weight loss.

Since the thyroid plays such a large part in hormone function, it’s no surprise that substance abuse can significantly impact thyroid function.

The Link Between Addiction and Thyroid Function

There are a few ways that addiction can impact thyroid function. Substance abuse can lead to changes in weight and hormone levels and can cause other health problems that can indirectly affect the thyroid gland.

Changes in Weight

Weight change is a common symptom of both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. However, weight changes can also be a symptom of substance abuse. For example, someone who abuses alcohol may gain weight due to the calorie surplus from drinking. Or, someone who abuses stimulants may lose weight due to the increased metabolism.

Quickly gaining or losing weight can impact the thyroid. Sudden weight loss can lead to hypothyroidism, while sudden weight gain can lead to hyperthyroidism.

Changes in Hormone Levels

Substance abuse can also lead to changes in hormone levels. This change is because the endocrine system regulates the body’s hormones, which are responsible for secreting hormones into the bloodstream. The endocrine system is a network of glands, including the thyroid gland.

Substance abuse can disrupt the normal function of the endocrine system, which can lead to changes in hormone levels. For example, someone who abuses alcohol may have a decrease in testosterone levels. Or, someone who abuses stimulants may have an increase in cortisol levels.

Other Health Problems

Substance abuse can also cause other health problems that can indirectly affect the thyroid gland. For example, someone who abuses alcohol may develop liver disease. Liver disease can lead to a build-up of toxins in the body, which can then affect the thyroid gland.

Or, someone who abuses stimulants may develop anxiety or sleep problems. These problems can also indirectly affect the thyroid gland by causing a build-up of stress hormones in the body.

Addiction Treatment at The Arbor

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, we can help. At The Arbor, we offer a wide range of treatment options that are tailored to your individual needs. We know that addiction is a complex disease, and we will work with you to create a treatment plan that addresses all of the underlying causes of your addiction. Get started today by calling 844.413.2690.