BACKGROUND: Previous studies have shown that heroin abuse can alter the gonadal functions. Few studies examined the association between testosterone levels and heroin use in the existing literature. We aimed to determine the association between gonadal hormones and heroin usage characteristics over 12 weeks of abstinence in heroin users.
METHODS: We collected data on patient demographics and heroin use patterns for 65 men aged 18 to 45 and for 29 age-matched healthy controls. Serum levels of total testosterone, estradiol, and prolactin were assessed at 5 time points.
RESULTS: Testosterone levels gradually increased and prolactin levels decreased in heroin users in this study. In heroin users, a significant positive correlation was observed between the way of using drug and the testosterone levels, the way of using drug and the estradiol levels, between the duration of heroin dependence and the testosterone levels, between the duration of heroin dependence and the estradiol levels on D0, and between relapse time and testosterone levels on D84.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data reveal testosterone might promote injection drug use and repeated relapse in male heroin users.