Is Alcohol Use Disorder a Hormone Problem?

alcohol use disorderHormones are an important part of everyday life. They control your hunger, your reproductive organs, and even your emotions and mood. Recent research also suggests hormones might play a role in the development of alcohol use disorder (AUD).

A new report explores the role of a hormone called aldosterone in human subjects undergoing AUD treatment. They also studied the effects in animals. Findings across three studies suggest a possible relationship between aldosterone, the brain, and AUD.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, AUD involves mild to severe alcohol dependence. But you might know it by its non-medical term: alcoholism. People with AUD often drink too much because they can’t control their intake. They might also abuse alcohol to repress negative emotions.

The National Institutes of Health’s summary of the report explains aldosterone binds to body and brain receptors called MRs. MRs are located in brain areas involved in the development and treatment of AUD — the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. As a result, when aldosterone binds to MRs in these brain areas, feelings of anxiety and problems with decision-making and controlling emotions and behaviors often arise.

Problems with decision-making and loss of control are key characteristics of AUD. Researchers wanted to know more about a possible relationship between the two. They found humans undergoing AUD treatment — still drinking — had more aldosterone in their blood than those who were not drinking.

This report looked at three small studies, only one that involved humans. Therefore, we can’t draw too many conclusions before doing more research on humans. However, it’s an important stepping stone for further study.

The authors of the study hope these findings will lead to the development of new AUD treatments in the future.


Did you know an addiction can be caused by a mental disorder?

One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.

But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, then take our free 3 minute assessment.
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