Cortisol May Curb Heroin Cravings

heroin-cravings, cortisolHeroin has been in the news a lot lately due to the number of overdose deaths occurring across the country. The rate of heroin use is staggering; many people find their way to the highly addictive substance by way of prescription opioids. Over the last few years, governmental measures intended to reduce prescription drug abuse has had the unintended consequence of nudging addicts towards heroin – which happens to be cheaper, stronger, and can easily lead to overdose.

Last year, 681,000 Americans aged 12 and older used heroin, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports. With over half a million users, the need for greater access to effective substance use disorder treatment is crucial. While drugs, such as buprenorphine, are effective at alleviating withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings, addiction researchers are always looking for new methods that will give recovering addicts the best chance at a successful recovery.

Cortisol for Cravings

A new study has found that cortisol, a stress hormone, may reduce cravings for heroin, Newsweek reports. The research included 29 heroin addicts undergoing treatment with pharmaceutical heroin (diacetylmorphine). The researchers found that cortisol decreased cravings in heroin patients by up to 25 percent.

Cortisol is naturally secreted from the adrenal gland in response to stressful situations. Researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland gave some patients cortisol tablets and others a placebo before administering a dose of heroin, according to the article. The patients were asked to rate their level of cravings at a later time.

The patients who were on a lower dose of heroin (up to 305 milligrams daily) and were given cortisol, reported having less craving for another dose of heroin. Unfortunately, patients who were taking a higher dose of heroin daily did not report having lower cravings.

The findings appear in Translational Psychiatry.

Looking Ahead

The study’s lead author, Dominique de Quervain, believes that cortisol may be helpful in treating other forms of addiction. More research is needed to determine the “safety and efficacy” of cortisol as a treatment for addiction.

“It might be interesting to see if [cortisol] also works for other addictions — for example, nicotine or gambling — because they are all driven by craving,” de Quervain said.

“We observed previously that cortisol can reduce memory retrieval in healthy subjects,” says de Quervain. “What we think is that cortisol, by reducing addiction memory, can actually also reduce craving.”


If you are or loved one is addicted to opioids, please contact Next Step Intervention. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you learn how to live a life free of opioids.

Cutting Off Veterans from Opioids

veteransThe prescription opioid epidemic has had a lasting effect on every demographic in America. Years of overprescribing and limited options for those who become addicted to drugs like OxyContin ® (oxycodone) and Vicodin ® (hydrocodone), have created a problem that no one has been able to control. Efforts to reduce addiction rates and overdose deaths have done some good, but at the same time, new policies have failed to address the underlying addiction.

One demographic that has been hit especially hard by the new policies is veterans. Measures made to reduce opioid painkiller prescriptions among veterans, in favor of alternative pain management, have left many struggling with chronic pain, The Star Tribune reports.

A Double Edged Sword

Over an 11-year period, the number of prescriptions for opioids prescribed by VA doctors increased dramatically. In fact, prescriptions for oxycodone and morphine jumped 259 percent nationwide by 2013. After more than a decade of war, almost 60 percent of veterans listed chronic pain as their most common medical problem, according to the article.

Prescription opioids, while addictive, are by far the most effective way to manage chronic pain. The problem starts when addiction sets in and the drugs are still required. The federal government’s mandate to reduce opioid prescription did manage to reduce the rates of addiction, the article reports. Unfortunately, many veterans were left to deal with pain on their own, a number of which sought out illicit methods to manage their pain.

No Offers Of Assistance

Individuals who use any narcotic, especially opioids, require detoxification and effective alternatives to the drugs they were using. Simply cutting off the supply may look good for reports, but fails to address the addiction that comes with years of use. Addicts who are cut off from their supply will seek other avenues to find what they need, unless an effective alternative is offered.

“There wasn’t a lot of discussion with the veteran except for the provider saying, ‘We’re not going to be doing this anymore because it’s not good for you,’ ” said Joy Ilem, of Disabled American Veterans, one of the nation’s largest veteran service groups.


If you are or loved one is addicted to prescription opioids, please contact Next Step Intervention. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you learn how to live a life free of opioid addiction.

Surrender Your Drugs and Go To Treatment

surrender-drugsThe “war on drugs” has been quite effective with regard to getting addicts off the streets, but it has done little to address the problem of addiction – a disease which plagues millions of Americans. People who are arrested and imprisoned, simply for the crime of being an addict, often find themselves in a hamster wheel.

The rates of jail recidivism among drug addicts who are released is extremely high. Research tells us that jail does little when it comes to teaching people how to live a life free from drugs – something treatment does quite well.

Treatment Over Jail

In many states there exist drug courts, which give those charged with drug crimes the option of probation and addiction treatment counseling as opposed to being locked up. Such programs have been found to save taxpayers money, and help rather than harm a number of people who are already suffering. However, there are many who feel that treatment is more successful when it is not mandatory or forced.

In many states across the country, prescription drug abuse and heroin addiction have become the largest social welfare issue. The death toll related to the use of opioids is staggering and some cities have begun thinking outside the box.

Surrender Your Drugs and Go To Treatment

In the little New England city of Gloucester, Massachusetts, the local police chief launched a novel program which provides substance use disorder treatment for people who turn in their illegal drugs to the police, WBUR reports. Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello said that 17 people have accepted the offer thus far.

While the number of people who have accepted treatment may seem small, Campanello points out that 17 people is more than three times the number of people who have died of drug overdoses in a town of 29,000, Needham, MA, this year alone. What’s more, the 17 who surrendered were using opioid drugs, such as heroin, morphine and oxycodone – drugs which all carry the potential for overdose.

“We need to get people into treatment,” Campanello said. “If they fail, we need to get them into treatment again. Just keep trying. Arresting them or coercing them into treatment just doesn’t work.”


If you are struggling with prescription opioids or heroin abuse, please do not hesitate to contact Next Step Intervention. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help show you how to live a life free of opioid addiction.

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