HAMILTON, ON (Aug. 26, 2014) – If you are using methadone to treat opioid addiction, be aware that your natural levels of testosterone may be lowered, according to a recent study by McMaster University.
The good news? If you’re a woman, methadone treatment won’t affect you. The bad news? If you’re a man, chances are much higher that it will.
In a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers say this must be addressed and may result in changes in addiction treatment.
The study found that men treated with methadone, used for opioid addiction treatment, have significantly suppressed testosterone levels of about a quarter of the testosterone of men not using opioids.
In women using methadone for the same treatment, testosterone levels were insignificantly impacted, even when menstruating.
Low testosterone in men has been associated with reduced quality of life as well as erectile dysfunction, fatigue, mood disturbances and depression, weak muscles, osteoporosis, increased joint pain and other problems.
“We expect that treating testosterone deficiency will improve outcomes of methadone treatment for patients, including treatment response and retention,” said Dr. Zena Samaan, principal investigator of the study.
“Doctors should also ensure they are prescribing the lowest dose of opioids including methadone for effective treatment to minimize testosterone suppression.”
She added that this is a particular issue in Canada, the second largest consumer of opioids in the world.
Dr. Samaan is an associate professor of the psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences department of McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.
The study involved information from 231 patients with opioid dependence treated with methadone in Ontario, as well as 783 Ontarians not using opioids.
The research received funding from the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the McMaster Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences.
The study was conducted by the Population Genomics Program of McMaster’s Chanchlani Research Centre, and Ontario Addiction Treatment Centres.
If you or a loved-one are currently undergoing methadone treatment, strongly consider testosterone replacement therapy. Contact our clinic for more details.
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