The Impact of Addiction on the Endocrine and Exocrine Systems
Drug and alcohol misuse can take a heavy toll on every system in the body. While most people are aware that certain organs and neurochemicals can be affected, some may not be as aware that there are drugs that affect the endocrine system. We’ll discuss which drugs cause hormonal imbalances due to their impact on the endocrine and exocrine systems, as well as tell you how you can get help if you’re struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol.
What Are the Endocrine and Exocrine Systems?
The endocrine and exocrine systems are related body systems that secrete hormones and other chemical transmitters that regulate body systems. These systems are vital to the stabilization of body functions and brain chemistry, and when a person struggles with substance use disorder, both the endocrine and exocrine systems suffer damage. Many substances of abuse can damage these systems, but some intoxicating substances damage specific endocrine or exocrine organs more than others. Here are some of the substances of abuse that can harm the endocrine or exocrine systems.
Substances Harmful to the Endocrine and Exocrine Systems
How alcohol and drugs affect the endocrine and exocrine system varies. Addiction among different groups has shown that factors such as substance of use, how long the substance has been used, and the quantities and methods of use can all have an impact on the endocrine/exocrine systems.
The Effect of Alcohol on the Endocrine System
- Alcohol can be particularly dangerous for many people and has addiction potential. Alcohol has a huge impact on most organ systems in the body, especially when it is consumed chronically in large quantities.
- The liver suffers greatly due to alcohol use disorder; over time, liver enzymes increase, which can lead to alcohol hepatitis, or cirrhosis.
- Women who struggle with alcohol use disorder are more likely to develop breast cancer. Chronic alcohol abuse can disrupt hormonal cycles, leading to reduced sexual ability, fertility, and physical energy.
- The pancreas, which helps the digestive system, also suffers damage; alcohol prevents digestive enzymes from being properly released into the intestines, which can lead to pancreatic inflammation, or pancreatitis. This is either acute (sudden) or chronic (over time).
The Effects of Amphetamines on the Endocrine System
These drugs can disrupt hormones, leading to sexual and fertility problems. Additionally, amphetamine use can increase adrenaline and dopamine, cause sleep disruptions, anxiety, and paranoia.
The Effects of Benzodiazepines on the Endocrine and Exocrine Systems
Long-term use, or overuse, of benzodiazepines may cause damage to the pituitary gland, which can harm metabolism, growth (in adolescents and young adults), and the fight-or-flight response tied to release of adrenaline.
The Effects of Cocaine on the Endocrine System
When cocaine is snorted, it can cause serious damage to mucous membranes in the nose and throat. The drug also disrupts hormones and hormone production, leading to sexual dysfunction. Consistent overstimulation of the adrenal glands can lead to mood disorders, increased anxiety symptoms, paranoia, and aggression.
The Effect of Inhalants on the Endocrine System
If the person abuses these drugs more than once, serious, lasting complications to several organ systems can occur. Hormones can be dramatically disrupted, causing infertility and sexual dysfunction; mucous membranes are damaged, depending on whether the substances are inhaled through the nose or mouth; and liver damage occurs due to toxic chemicals being processed through the digestive system.
The Effect of Marijuana on the Endocrine System
The drug can change hormonal balance, reducing sexual function and fertility and impacting reproduction function. Additionally, marijuana can increase appetite, which can lead to weight gain and obesity.
The Effect of Opioids on the Endocrine and Exocrine Systems
Hypogonadism is a side effect of chronic opioid abuse, leading to infertility and hormone imbalances that may not be reversible. Reduced sex hormones can also lead to depression, chronic fatigue, osteoporosis, and loss of muscle mass.
The Effect of Steroids on the Endocrine System
Since these substances are derived from testosterone and intended to increase muscle mass, the testosterone-like chemicals can seriously impact the body’s ability to produce other, necessary hormones, creating a serious hormone imbalance. This affects mood, fertility, sexual function, and cognitive function. Abusing steroids increases the risk of liver damage, including peliosis hepatis, tumors, and cancer.
The Effects of Tobacco on the Endocrine System
The risk of developing cancer, including breast and pancreatic cancer, is increased if a person smokes. Tobacco, particularly in cigarettes, disrupts hormonal cycles, and these regular changes, especially in women, can make it harder to quit due to cravings tied to hormonal changes.
How to Prevent Permanent Damage to the Endocrine/Exocrine Systems
A professional rehabilitation program is one of the best ways to get help for addiction. When a person enters an inpatient rehab in New Jersey, they not only receive the psychological help they need to understand their addiction, but they also receive medical supervision for serious conditions related to substance abuse. Most importantly, working toward recovery and abstinence can help to reverse or reduce damage to organ systems like the endocrine and exocrine systems.
If you or some you love is struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, there is effective evidence-based help to get you on the road to recovery and on the mend from the adverse affects of drugs and alcohol.
To find out more about our different types of addiction treatment, contact our knowledgeable and compassionate admissions navigators at . They are on hand to answer your questions about paying for rehab, using insurance to pay for rehab, as well as provide helpful information about what in inpatient treatment. Recovery is possible so don’t wait. Contact us to start treatment.