Sex hormones could help female heroin addicts kick their habit, according to a new study.

Scientists have found that women become more quickly addicted to drugs than men, although they are less likely to take an illegal substance in the first place. Researchers believe this is due to hormones with women experiencing stronger urges to take drugs at certain points of their menstrual cycle.

A scientific study carried out using rats has found that hormones like oestrogen and progesterone could help combat opioid addiction. The female rodents were able to choose when they took heroin and how much they took was tracked against their menstrual cycle.

It was found that the rats consumed the least heroin when they had high oestrogen levels and their levels of progesterone were about to reach their peak.

Psychologist Mark Smith, from North Carolina’s Davidson College in the United States, who led the study said: “Every single female showed this effect. It didn’t matter if they were a high heroin user or a low heroin user – they still showed a decrease relative to what they used during other phases of their cycle.”

Cravings affected by menstrual cycle

This suggests that the hormones oestrogen and progesterone may actually help women resist their cravings or make their urge to take drugs less strong. More work now needs to be done to see whether it is both hormones working together or whether the effect is down to just one of them.

Progesterone has already been used in research as a potential treatment for addiction to cocaine and nicotine. And female hormone supplements are already commonly taken for medical reasons including contraception and hormone replacement therapy.

Heroin and other opioids including morphine and codeine are among the drugs AlphaBiolabs tests for. As well as offering testing kits which can be ordered online by members of the public, we provide drug testing services to companies, organisations and courts.

These include workplace drug testing which allows employers to monitor any substance misuse among staff.

 

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