Ovarian hormones and drug abuse

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2014 Nov;16(11):511. doi: 10.1007/s11920-014-0511-7.


There are significant gender differences in course, symptomology, and treatment of substance use disorders. In general data from clinical and preclinical studies of substance use disorders suggest that women are more vulnerable than men to the deleterious consequences of drug use at every phase of the addiction process. In addition data from epidemiologic studies suggest that the gender gap in the prevalence of substance use is narrowing particularly among adolescence. Therefore, understanding the role of estrogen and progesterone in mediating responses to drugs of abuse is of critical importance to women's health. In this review we will discuss findings from clinical and preclinical studies of (1) reproductive cycle phase; (2) endogenous ovarian hormones; and (3) hormone replacement on responses to stimulants, nicotine, alcohol, opioids, and marijuana. In addition, we discuss data from recent studies that have advanced our understanding of the neurobiologic mechanisms that interact with estrogen and progesterone to mediate drug-seeking behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Cannabis*
  • Estrogens / metabolism*
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nicotine / pharmacology*
  • Progesterone / metabolism*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / metabolism*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Estrogens
  • Ethanol
  • Progesterone
  • Nicotine