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Can thyroid disorders lead to addictions?

Well no, thyroid disorder does not directly cause addiction. But it can cause vague mental symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, cognitive problems, nervousness, irritability, and fatigue that can drive a person to self-medicate with legal or illegal drugs, including alcohol, in order to feel better. Ongoing drug or alcohol use can, in turn, affect thyroid hormone levels. Drug or alcohol use appear to inhibit the liver’s ability to make the proteins that help convert T4 to T3, for instance. It can also lead to a build-up of inactive forms of thyroid hormone. And it’s speculated that low thyroid hormone activity can make it harder for someone to stop using drugs or alcohol.

I suggest that if you’ve been drawn to harmful drugs because you find that they help you feel better, that you carefully check to see if, indeed, you have low thyroid hormone activity, which can cause low metabolism and many of the above symptoms. To do this, you will need to take your body temperature a few times, every day, for at least three days. For complete directions on how to do this correctly, see “How are body temperatures measured?” on my website.

If your temperature is low (consistently below 98.5 F., or 36.94 C. but typically lower than 97.8 F, or 36.56 C) there is a good chance you have low metabolism due to low thyroid hormone function. You may have this despite normal Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels, and even if you are taking Synthroid or some other brand of T4. This condition is known as Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome.

You can help your body get back to normal by taking supplemental T3, a prescription drug. Taking T3 will help normalize metabolism and body temperature and, over time, reduce the symptoms that made alcohol or psychoactive drug use attractive. It may help to clear out thyroid hormone production pathways, help your liver function better, and help you produce the brain neurotransmitters you need to think clearly, stabilize mood and recover from stress. All these things can aid greatly in recovery.

Your doctor can call us at 800.420.5801 to get more information about how to use T3, along with nutritional and herbal support for both thyroid and adrenal problems, also often a problem in addiction, and to discuss your individual case.

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Gallo V, Rabbia F, Petrino R, et al. Liver and thyroid gland. Physiopathologic and clinical relationships. Recenti Prog Med. 1990 May;81(5):351-5.

Kenna GA, Swift RM, Hillemacher T. et al. The relationship of appetitive, reproductive and posterior pituitary hormones to alcoholism and craving in humans. Neuropsychol Rev. 2012 Sep;22(3):211-28.

Leggio L, Ferrulli A, Cardone S, et al. Relationship between the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis and alcohol craving in alcohol-dependent patients: a longitudinal study. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2008 Dec;32(12):2047-53.

Schlienger JL, Jacques C, Sapin R, et al. Thyroid function in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis. Ann Endocrinol (Paris). 1980 Mar-Apr;41(2):81-94.

Stein EJ, da Silveira Filho NG, Machado DC, et al. Chronic mild stress induces widespread decreases in thyroid hormone alpha1 receptor mRNA levels in brain–reversal by imipramine. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2009 Feb;34(2):281-6.

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  1. Thank you so much for the information of ‘how to get my life back!’

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