There is a new study which suggests the hormone’s in a woman’s body could make her more likely to suffer from addiction. Does this mean the birth control pill may be helpful in recovery?
It’s normal for a woman to have hormonal fluctuations during her life, but it can wreak havoc on her body. From premenstrual syndrome to menopause, the highs and lows of hormone disruptions can trigger depression, weight gain, and exhaustion. The changes a woman goes through due to hormones can result in disrupting how she lives her life, relaxes and communicates with others. Additionally, the new study suggests women may be more prone to addiction, particularly cocaine, and birth control pills could be the key to helping a woman kick a drug habit.
The new study was done by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published in the Nature Communication journal. Researchers discovered that estrogen intensifies the brain’s dopamine reward path and demonstrates that cocaine has the most potent effect during the menstrual cycle, when its release is highest.
The team used both male and female mice during the study, finding females were extremely strong and were rewarded more by the drug. When the mice were placed into an environment linked to drugs, with the female mice at the height of their estrous cycle, it stimulated a dopamine reward signal even without cocaine use. Researchers wondered if something was inherent to the different sexes, and found it seemed to be influenced by hormones.
While the team found there were more addicted males, it was due to opportunities because they are more impulsive in situations where there were already drugs present. Females consumed more drugs, become addicted faster after the first time using and have a more difficult time quitting.
The team was quick to point out if hormones influence female addiction because there are other factors to consider. Addiction does not discriminate, and it has the ability to completely control and ruin someone’s life.
An estimated 9.7 million women in the United States currently take some type of hormonal birth control, which is a small portion of the 125.9 million women in the country. Aside from being a major type of contraceptive, hormones can also be used to treat irregular menstrual cycles, acne, endometriosis, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and various other disorders in women.
While the team did discover a correlation between mice and humans, women have previously reported feeling a greater “high’ from cocaine during their menstrual cycle, which is when estrogen levels are peak. One of the doctors in the study believes the strong reaction in female mice could also be applicable to other types of addictive substances, such as heroin, tobacco and alcohol.
Additional research is needed and is not without major hurdles. Birth control wouldn’t cure addiction, but it may improve treatment outcomes in women with substance abuse disorders.