testosterone and addiction

The Role Of Testosterone In Addiction And Recovery

Written By : Dr Andrew Kan   ✓ Fact Checked

Although testosterone is seen as a male hormone, its also present in women to some extent. Studies show that testosterone has the potential to help the person suffering from depression. Read on to know more.

(Last Updated on April 22, 2024)

You probably already know this, but the human body is complicated. It is a flood of chemicals, micro-organisms, and the constant death and rebirth of cells. Among its most numerous ingredients are a type of chemical called “hormones”.

Hormones are chemicals that act as a signaling system within the body. When parts of your body receive a hormone, such as dopamine, those parts of your body respond in a certain way.

Serotonin makes you relax, for example. Your body receives serotonin and triggers a sleep cycle when there is enough of it. During that sleep cycle the serotonin is burned as fuel to help facilitate sleep. Once that serotonin has been burned, you wake up and start the cycle again.

Of all the hormones, however, none is more well-known than testosterone. Before people really understood hormones, temples were being built to glorify the effects of testosterone.

It is an extremely impactful hormone on the body, particularly when it comes to how your body deals with drug addiction. Some drugs interact with testosterone differently than others.

Let’s talk about the different things testosterone does in the body, as well as how drug addiction can impact those things. But beyond that, we will also get into how testosterone impacts the drugs right back.

What is Testosterone?

We described testosterone as being well-known before hormones were even discovered. Why is that? Well, it is because the main role of testosterone in the body is increasing muscle mass and facilitating physical activity. But most notably, it appears in far higher amounts in men.

Ares, the Greek God of War. Susano-o, the Japanese God of the Wind. Even the mighty God of the Old Testament were all exceptionally physically powerful figures. In short, testosterone is known for being the hormone of taking action. But that is as good as it is bad at times.

Opioids Reduce Testosterone Production

Society within the United States is currently afflicted with a plague of opioid addiction. Over production and over medication of opioids has resulted in tons of people addicted to them.

But while this is generally known among the population, something you might not be aware of is how opioids decrease testosterone production in both men and women.

What are the implications of this? Well, it is part of what contributes to the lanky, boney appearance of many opioid addicts. It goes much further than skin deep, however. For instance, while testosterone is critical to muscle mass and movement, it does much more than that.

Testosterone is known to be a necessary component in split-second decision making. And split-second decisions happen more frequently than you might think. In fact, they happen constantly.

Whenever you do something stressful, your decision to do that thing will eventually come down to the moment before you do it and the moment after. It takes testosterone to push you over that gap. If you have opioids clouding your mind, making that decision is far more difficult.

This contributes to the vicious cycle that opioid addicts find themselves in: The drug robs them of their ability to stand up for themselves, making it harder to do anything but keep using it.

Stimulants Increase Testosterone Production

On the other side of the spectrum, stimulants do something completely different. They make testosterone skyrocket in order to make use of the energy it gives you.

You can probably imagine that this has the opposite effect as opioids, but it might be a bit harder to imagine how that actually works. What is the opposite, categorically, of someone who cannot make a decision? The answer: Someone who decides too fast.

That means that people who are addicted to stimulants end up acting on what they perceive as “instinct” more frequently. Their conscious thoughts have no way of keeping up with their reflex to act, so they go with whatever feels naturally, necessarily losing impulse control on the way.

Another of the many effects of testosterone is empathy inhibition. Anyone who has ever been in a fight will be able to recognize this effect: Ordinarily a person is not ready to do harm to another person. The normal reaction to such an event is revulsion.

But testosterone allows a person to deal with situations that they normally would not be able to by limiting their ability to perceive their own revulsion. With an abundance of testosterone created by stimulants, suddenly a user of stimulants becomes immune to empathy.

Stop us if this is obvious, but a person who is immune to empathy is quite the scary thing.

How can Testosterone be Used in Recovery?

Whether it is recovering from opioids, stimulants, or alcohol, testosterone is a critical component. This applies to both genders as well, due to its role in decision making.

As we mentioned earlier, you cannot make a hard decision without a little bit of a push. Testosterone grants that push. It allows you to make a decision even knowing it will be a painful one, as it also inhibits your ability to feel fear. But perhaps the best part about testosterone is the fact that there are plenty of safe and healthy ways to produce it.

Exercise produces testosterone, as does vigorous conversation. In fact, there are poses you can assume that will help produce testosterone on their own. They are called “power stances” and include poses like putting your hands on your hips while standing.

These create tiny amounts of testosterone. But tiny amounts are all you need to get a lot of decision-making done. So, give it a try if you want to.


Like many aspects of the human body, having the right amount of testosterone is all about balance. Too little, and you become weak and ineffectual. Too much, and you become short-tempered and brutish. What you need to be, above all else, is in control of yourself.

You are both the occupant of your body and the body itself. So, be careful not to lose yourself in that complex of chemicals.

If you want to find out more about how recovery works, give us a visit: https://www.oceanrecovery.com/detox-san-diego/

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